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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Newsletter
  • 2013.12.02
  • 2411

PSPD English Newsletter : October - November 2013


<Greetings from PSPD>

Hello, readers! Greetings from Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general of PSPD


Outrageous! PartⅠ


• It is revealed that NIS has written politically manipulating comments not only on internet sites but also on Twitter. Striking facts on how national organizations have involved in elections are being exposed to the public one after another. The cyber command of the Ministry of Defense manipulated online comments and intervened in the election, and the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs and the Ministry of Security and Public Administration organized program to influence elections under the name of ‘security educations’. The cyber command tries to make over this politicking to deviated behaviors at the individual level but little would believe that. It is also found that national organizations had closely worked together with so called, ‘Crusader part-timers’ illegally formed by the leading party outside of the election campaign headquarter in cyber space for politicking.        


• Ichal Supriadi, secretary-general of ANFREL an international election watchdog has visited PSPD a few days ago. He was shocked by what happened in Korea and defined that an election is rigged if a national organization has used national budget and systematically moved favorably to a certain candidate. Not necessarily considering what a secretary general of an international organization said but judging with common sense, the last presidential election can be said to be a comprehensively illegal and rigged. In spite of very common and logical arguments, Park Geun-hye government and the leading party are threatening and scolding the people and the opposition if disapproving the election result.  This is what we call ‘a response of brazen-faced’.    


• External pressure, revenges, destroying evidences, curtailing and concealment… The former president of the Prosecutors office has been dismissed because of a scandal on his private life even though his investigation was minimal and limited on the head of NIS related matters among various NIS intervention in the presidential election. Moreover, the leader of special investigation team in the Prosecutors office who exposed and testified external pressure is now under surveillance. Current president of NIS received a warrant from a court and sent a formal letter to NIS employees who have been arrested by prosecutors and ordered not to testify. The fact that the Ministry of Defense is deleting evidences proves nothing but intervention of the cyber command in the election. They are all clearly showing how current government is busy with hiding and erasing illegal activities carried out for the last presidential election.       


• President Park Geun-hye insisted herself that she has received no advantages from illegal activities of national organizations in the last election. If that is true, she has to stand in front for strict and fair investigation and ask for responsibilities. However, Park Geun-hye government is suppressing finding the truth by all means. If she is not a conspirator, why is she attempting to hide and conceal illegal activities, and furthermore destruct and oppress investigation? The leading party does not seem to acknowledge that the more Park Geun-hye government tries to keep silence and conceal, it only proves and assures current government is a conspirator.


• PSPD regards this illegal intervention as more serious scandal than Watergate in Korea. Finding the truth and asking for responsibilities are obligations of a power watch organization speaking of identity of PSPD. In addition, it is the matter of sustaining the principle of Democratic Constitutional Order of Korea which has developed against winding road for the last 20 years. PSPD has no intention to stop at raising issues but actions will follow. 


• PSPD’s civil action commenced last June to find the truth of NIS’s illegal intervention in the presidential election is facing a new phase. PSPD has led consultations on the current situation and candle rallies. Now, it is going to use all its strength from November to correct the current situation infringed the constitution. First of all, it will put all the efforts to dismiss ringleaders of external pressure and concealment Hwang Kyo-an, the Minister for Justice and Nam Jae-jun, the president of NIS. Depending on results of investigation, Kim Gwan-jin, the Minister for defense should follow. Moreover, it will keep demanding to appoint independent special prosecutors since complete and thorough investigation does not seem possible under the current structure of prosecutors which could not protect even a chief prosecutor from external pressure. Above all, dimensional cooperation with political powers and civil and social figures who have been waiting and seeing the situation will be enhanced to point out faults of Park Geun-hye government which has tried to downsize and conceal the illegal activities of national organizations. Herewith, I am asking more than 14,000 members to join in together with colleagues and citizens for PSPD’s civil actions fighting against injustice.    


Outrageous! Part Ⅱ


• The Ministry of Employment and Labor has ordered to dismiss Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union in which more than 60,000 members are joined on the ground of keeping membership for nine discharged. The government insists that it follows the law but what it applied is neither a law nor article but enforcement of ordinance. Legal professions argue that dismissing the union of 60,000 members because of nine is excessive punishment even though there was an illegal act. 


• Depriving union status of Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union is not just oppressing a single union but challenging the right to freedom of association and essential element of the right to labor which have formed in the late 80’s. Whether to approve or not, we should not let the government arbitrary to make this Union an illegal entity. PSPD will stand in the front line to protect Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union. 


Outrageous! Part Ⅲ


• Promises on livelihood and welfare made during candidate and transmission committee period of Park Geun-hye are being changed or retrograded. Doubling basic old-age pension, 100% coverage on four serious diseases by the government, free education, removing grade system for the handicapped… these promises are all stepping backwards or changed. Words made regarding measures for house rent and regulating unfair internal trade of Chaebols disappeared. Park Geun-hye promised not to privatize without consent of the people but the railroads are being forced privatized. Promise to execute National Assembly investigation on Ssangyong Motor’s layoff is also discarded.  


• It can be said that Park Geun-hye was able to be elected for a president because of her promises on democracy in economy and livelihood welfare policies. The reason even a conservative leading party had to promise democracy in economy, livelihood welfare and protection of the right to labor is because of sense of crisis that our society is not sustainable. Our society has been running for polarization and aging society, and lost social justice represented by unfair relationship between ‘Gab’ and ‘Eul’. For these reasons, retrograded and/or broken promises are not just the matter of success or failure of the government but more importantly the matter of breaking social agreements which were made to prepare minimal system for stable and secured society that is; sustainable society. PSPD has seen good results from saving ‘Eul’ activities. Based on the experiences and cooperation with all social powers which concern retrograding promises on livelihood welfare, PSPD will establish solidarity for livelihood welfare-democracy in economy. The solidarity will urge Park Geun-hye government to propose policies to keep promises and allocate related budget, and push forward its execution before and after regular session of the National Assembly.   


Outrageous! Part Ⅳ


• The government and KEPCO finally forced foundation work of 765kV high voltage transmission tower construction despite of opposition of the elderly in Milyang. People from religious fields, environmental activists and citizen jointly protesting with the elderly were accused as external authorities that they were taken to the police and a few were even arrested. On the other hand, the Office of Prime Minister has broken hearts of Kangjeong residents again by classifying Kangjeong village as a dispute resolve zone in spite of the request being made for thorough and complete verification and review of the Navy base construction plan. They are not all. Kim Seok-ki has been appointed to a president of Korea Airport Corporation by the help of a superior. He is a former commissioner of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency who directed to use excessive force to suppress protesters in Yongsan which resulted in tragedy so that bereaved families are protesting against his appointment at the moment. Kim received the lowest points during recruitment process of internal recommendation which means this appointment did not comply with general recruitment principles. The police is still prohibiting memorial altar for deceased Ssangyong workers in front of Daehanmun. 


• PSPD has established the Joint Action for SKY+N (S(Ssangyong) + K(Kangjeong) + Y(Yongsan) + N(Non-Nuclear / Milyang) last year together with residents and workers involved in and worked to resolve disputes. To represent their voices against Park Geun-hye government which does not listen but force its intention and plans, PSPD is organizing a new Joint Action for 2013 SKY+N.


I would like to share some fruitful results.


• PSPD has accused Lee Seok-chae, chairman of KT for business malpractice twice in February and October this year. The prosecutors recently has seized and searched KT and residence of Lee Seok-chae. 


• As a result of saving ‘Euls’ project, the negotiation between Mini Stop headquarter and its franchisees has settled on 17 October and the Lotte Group and its victims have started consultations for ‘Live together’ agreements and establishing ‘Live together organization’



<Civil and Political rights related activities>

National Assembly, from the symbol of power to the hall of people’s mind

National Assembly, from the symbol of power to the hall of people’s mind

(for further information, please visit  http://www.peoplepower21.org/Politics/1100816 - Korean only)


‘Open National Assembly, Communicate Politics!’ project group (Open and Communicate project) organized by 11 civil organizations and 20 lawmakers from civil societies has announced <Proposals for National Assembly Reform policy assignment> on 1 October for the purpose of making the National Assembly open wider to citizens, let people participate in and have strict ethics for lawmakers.


The National Assembly is meant to collect peoples’ wishes and reflect them in legislation but ours is keeping a distance from the people. Even peaceful rallies are not allowed in front of the National Assembly. There are fences 200 meters away from the Assembly building and rallies are only allowed further 100 meters away from those fences. The distance between our Assembly and the people are that far. If you compare this situation with other nations, it becomes obvious how closed our Assembly is. UK and Canada do not have fences around assembly buildings. There are no attending policemen controlling entrance of the people into assemblies. Needlessly to say, rallies are allowed up in front.   


Watching meetings of representatives elected by the hands of the people are not easy in Korea. If you want to sit down and hear National Assembly meetings, a reference from a lawmaker or permission from a chief of standing committee is required. UK allows attendance to committee meetings by first come first serve bases and people can go to general meetings in Germany through reservation system. When submitting a petition after collecting wills from people, finding a lawmaker to write a reference of petition blocks your way. Germany runs petition website to facilitate anyone to submit ideas and opinions easily. There is another obstacle in Korea that even for the case in which a letter of petition is submitted against all odds, adoption rate at the assembly is below 1%. Punishing unethical behaviors of lawmakers is also a problem. Proposals for punishments are piling up to criticize and denounce other parties but they are rarely reviewed seriously to make a decision.  


Therefore, Open and Communicate Project group suggested followings in <Proposals for National Assembly Reform Policy Assignment> and handed it in to National Assembly Management Committee members and Kang Chang-hee, National Assembly Speaker with enclosed signatures of more than 1,200 citizens. 

△ open spaces of the National Assembly to the people and minimize entrance restrictions

△ Improve regulations to attend general meetings and committee meetings which are currently run by permission

△ Adopt online submission system for petitions to make easy to appeal

△ Enhance the rights of the Ethics Review Council for investigation.

The Group also applied for constitutional Appeal on the Article 11 of the Law on Rallies and Demonstration and will organize street campaign ‘Bring the National Assembly back to the people’ in November. Open and Communicate Project group will keep working to shorten the distance between the Assembly and the People, and make the Assembly where peoples’ minds are reflected.   



<Socio-Economic Rights related Activities>

Breaking the promise on the Basic Pension, where is the welfare promise of Park Geun-hye government heading for?

Breaking the promise on the Basic Pension, where is the welfare promise of Park Geun-hye government heading for?

(for further information, please visit  http://www.peoplepower21.org/Welfare/1096070  - Korean only)


Despite of being as a reserved party candidate, the president Park Geun-hye made promises on various welfare policies in the last presidential election. However, welfare promises have started to be broken or shrunken after the inauguration including extending national medical insurance coverage for four major serious diseases, free nursery and high school education. Furthermore, the Basic Pension Plan presented on 25 September completely shattered expectations of the people. The framework of the Basic Pension completely ignores the promise to pay twice of  basic old-age pension (approx. 200,000 KRW) to all elderly. Now, it says to pay 100,000 to 200,000 KRW to 70% low income earners accordingly to membership period of the National Pension Scheme. This is giving up on adopting the Basic Pension System (doubling basic old-age pension) to resolve poverty of the elderly which was one of the priority promises.


The Basic Old-age Pension Scheme was adopted to cover niche of the National Pension Scheme when National Pension payment was reduced from 60% to 40% in 2007 making the minimum income of the elderly insecure. However, Park Geun-hye government discards the notion why basic old-age pension was adopted. It cuts down basic pension income of long-term members of the National Pension Service and gives disadvantage to people aged from 20 to 50 who have sincerely paid National Pensions every month. In addition, the law for basic pension announced for enactment is not going to reflect income raise rate but only inflation to income payment. It also regulates to review income payment level every five years without stating specific criteria, so that payment amount could be reduced in the future. Park Geun-hye government insists that adopting universal basic pension scheme will increase financial burden for next generation but that is not true. In fact, public pension payment level of OECD countries reaches to 8.4% of GDP in 2010 but Korea is only 1.2%. If 70% of the elderly receive 200,000 KRW, total basic pension expenditure will reach 7.9% of GDP when the number of the elderly comprises 37.4% in 2050


Hence, ‘People’s Action for straightening National Pension Scheme’ composed of 21 labor and civil societies including PSPD is actively working for adopting universal basic pension such as watching on People’s Happiness Pension Committee and organizing ‘Action day for adopting universal basic pension’.  Booklets on pension scheme and leaflets on shrunken promise of basic pension have been made and distributed. It also held a training program for civil society activists. The upcoming activities of the People’s Action plan to have national lecture tour to help citizen’s understanding on the National Pension scheme and basic pension, and one person demonstration in order to tell people about problems of the basic pension plan of Park Geun-hye government and suggest alternative measures.         



<Peace and Disarmament> 

Is Korea-US military alliance contributing to the peace of Korean Peninsula?

20131023_토론회_한미동맹60년성찰과미래모색 (4)

* Picture : Panelists at the discussion <Korea-US alliance, reflection and groping for the future> on 23 October

(for further information, please visit  http://www.peoplepower21.org/Peace/1079822  - Korean only)


PSPD has hosted a discussion <Korea-US alliance, reflection and groping the future> at Baeumteo of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea on 23 October. The discussion raised opinions that Korea-US relations should change its stance to keep Korean peninsula in peace from concentrating on military power towards democracy and peace-oriented policies, and practical efforts are required. 


The discussion reviewed Korea-US alliance formed during the Korean War and cold war era, and how it affected separated Korean peninsula and the peace on East Asia for the last 60 years. It also seriously dealt whether it is wise to keep current Korea-US alliance policies while disputes between US and China are getting worse affecting the situation of Northeast Asia.


In the first part of the discussion, Kim Jun-hyung, professor of Handong University pointed out ‘Korean Peninsula Paradox’ that probability of war on Korean Peninsula and disputes on Northeast Asia have increased despite of enhanced Korea-US alliance. To solve this paradox, Kim insisted to improve South and North relationship to settle down the peace in Korean Peninsula rather than rely on military deterrent. Additionally, Kim said to reduce the alliance and recover balanced diplomacy. The arguments are followed by a professor Lee Kyung-ju. He said established Constitution of Korea specified peace principles such as exclusively defense-oriented stance but this principle was distorted and retreated during Park Jeong-hee government that security based legislation made inroads constitutional system.  In order to realize peace principle stated in the Constitution, he proposed to strengthen civil control over national security policies so that the government sets policies towards peace diplomacy and develops Korea-US alliance in the suit of the peace.


In the second part, Choi Jong-geon, professor of Yonsei University argued that Korea has purchased US weapons without proper consideration and benefits. Korean style Missile Defense System pursed by the government gives a question whether it is logical in terms of military technology. He emphasized that it is not even possible to execute without having wartime operational control back. Lee Si-woo peace activists insisted that the letter of transferring Military Command Control composed by a former president Lee Seung Man in the past was not valid because it did not comply with the Vienna convention on the law of treaties (VCLT). Lee also raised the concern that US command in Korea can exercise operational control under the excuse of armistice and emergency control on Korean Peninsula since it is also responsible for UN command.     


Regarding the peace of Korean peninsula and security system, Professor Kim Jun-hyung and Lee Kyung-ju put stress on improving South and North Korea relationship, reducing militant alliance and pursuing peace diplomacy policy. On the other hand, Professor Choi Jong-geon argued that deterrent for North Korea and Korea-US alliance are more important than improving South and North relationship. Starting with this discussion, Peace and Armament department of PSPD will collect voices from civil society to resolve current issues both Korea and US are facing more transparently, logically and peacefully and work to find ways to carry out solutions. 

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