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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Civil-Political
  • 2004.01.19
  • 737
Introduction The year 2004 is another important year in Korean politics. Through the General Election to be held on April 15, Korean voters will select number of their representatives. Much similar to the last General Election of 2000, civil society in Korea is gathering its efforts to eliminate non-eligible, and often corrupt, politicians in a very unique way; Blacklisting Campaign.

Right after the General Election in 2000, the citizens were empowered and excited upon the fact that they were able to judge, make a right choice, and change the course of Korean politics. However, during this past session politicians and the National Assembly did not change much, but gave back distrust and abhorrence. Especially watching the National Assembly members getting behind bars one after another for the illegal political fund scandal made the citizen dejected. As the election season approaches, the citizens expected the ineligible, corrupt, insincere politicians to make a decision themselves, but in vain. Now it is the time for the voters to judge the corrupt and ineligible politicians.

Without question, corrupt politics begins with money election. As long as enormous amount of money is illegally and systematically poured into the elections, corrupt politics and tight government-business relationship leading to money politics will continue. Unless the election itself gets reformed, abolishing political corruption is impossible. To uproot the money election, the Korean civil society is initiating the blacklisting campaign with an extensive monitoring. Civil action group is organized nationally to monitor as closely as possible from the beginning candidate drafts. If a candidate is known to have organized an illegal fund of any sort or his or her vote buying activity has found out, this candidate will absolutely be included on the blacklist. Winning in the election would not justify any illegal means. If any illegal activity or ineligible behavior is revealed, the citizens will strongly continue to question the legitimacy of the elected, even after the election.



What is Blacklisting Campaign? The blacklisting campaign targets particular candidates. The electorate and civil organizations sets up criteria for blacklisting (for example, corrupt activity in the past or insincere participation in law-making process), announces a list of those who do not meet the criteria, openly opposes those candidates during the candidate draft and election, and propagate to the voters so that those on the blacklist loose their chance to run on the election or loose in the election.

In 2000, 1054 Korean civil organizations formed the Civil Action for the General Election (CAGE). The blacklisting campaign of the CAGE targeted 87 corrupt and ineligible candidates, among which 59 lost on the election as the result. The UN chose the CAGE as the civil movement of the year in 2000.

The campaign aims to provide the voters with measurable facts so that they know whom they are voting for when they cast their ballot. Political situation in Korea has considerably improved over the past decades. However, the National Assembly still hesitates to open the meeting session to the public or disclose the minutes and vote results. The citizens have a right to know what their representatives do in the National Assembly. The citizens have a right to know whether their lawmakers have been related to corruption.



Is Blacklisting Campaign Illegal? Many presume that the blacklisting campaign is illegal. This is not true. The revision of the elections law made before the General Election in 2000 already allowed civil organizations to express their support or opposition toward a particular candidate during candidate draft process. (Elections Law, Article 57. Definition of Activities that are not Regarded as Electoral Campaign) In addition, civil organizations, either in their own names or in the names of their representatives, are allowed to support, oppose, or recommend to support or oppose particular political party or candidate after candidates are decided. (Elections Law, Article 87. Exceptions to Prohibited Electoral Campaigns.) The National Election Committee and Supreme Public Prosecutors Office officially acknowledged these points again when the CAGE 2004 announced its first list.

However, the revision did not give much room for voters campaign. Because the law specified what it bans, such as handing out flyers on the street, gathering in public place, march on the street, wearing same clothing, or using an amplifier. (Elections Law, Art. 92-107) The revision of elections law, therefore, was a part of the CAGE campaign in 2000. Due to its urgent need back in 2000, the CAGE could not help but pushing forward their activity beyond the boundary of the law. The reason the CAGE was sued after the election was because of those illegal activities, not because the blacklisting campaign itself was illegal.

What is also allowed under the current law is holding a press conference to announce the blacklist, on-line blacklisting campaign and running websites relating to this, publicizing the blacklist through each organization뭩 members newsletter, one-on-one blacklisting campaign on the phone, and using handwritten letters.

The activity of the CAGE 2004 is largely on-line. The "Click N Clean" campaign consists of four individual campaigns: Blacklisting, Money-Election Monitoring, Political Party Evaluation, and Voters campaign. Online hearings on the current members of the National Assembly will be continuing until the end of February. After candidates for each political party are chosen, various voters campaigns will begin. Towards to the Election Day, blacklisting campaign will be on its full stretch.



Criteria for the Blacklist

The CAGE 2004 announced its first list on February 5, and the second one on February 10. The first list contains 68 people among 307 current and former members of the National Assembly (MNA) in the 16th session (April 2000 ?April 2004), regardless how long they served during the session. The second list contains 41 people who are not currently MNA but likely to be candidates for this election.

The CAGE 2004 collected various opinions from the citizens: It accumulated detailed resources, gathered information received from citizens, held on-line hearings, conducted experts?examination and the Voters Committee뭩 discussion. This is how the CAGE 2004 came up with its strict criteria for selecting those who are not qualified to be representatives of the people.

The criteria for selecting those to be on the blacklist are; 1) corrupt activity, 2) violation of the Elections Law, 3) anti-human rights activity and destruction of democracy and constitutional order, 4) sincerity in law-making and activity against the Assembly and electorate, 5) position on reforming bills and policies, 6) morale and qualification, and 7) thorough examination and overall evaluation.



1) Corrupt Activity

- Violation of the Political Fund Act including illegal fund usage during the presidential election in 2002, bribery, and illegal practice of utilizing their power will be examined. Whether the person has been investigated or prosecuted, how the trial went or is going on, or whether the person was discharged or reinstated will be checked.

- The CAGE considers someone who has been convicted for corruption is better not to serve in public, even though the person was discharged or reinstated. If the case is not ended or dropped but the illegal activity has been proven to be fact, the CAGE will consult the advisory attorneys group.



2) Violation of the Elections law

- Those who have been charged for breaking the elections law in the past

- Those who were warned or indicted for illegal activity during their election campaign



3) Anti-Human Rights Activity and Destruction of Democracy and Constitutional Order

- Whether they have destroyed constitutional order, through a coup for example, or violated human rights using their power (inclusive of connivance and abetting of those activities)



4) Sincerity in Law-Making and Activity against the Assembly and Electorate

- Attendance, number of bill proposal, and participation in the inspection of the government offices (conducted by the NA) are monitored to judge the candidate뭩 sincerity on the job

- Other non-favorable activities will also be counted; railroading, bulletproofing the National Assembly, false exposure, employing regionalism or McCarthyism, contesting to the result of candidate draft and going on their own ways, migrations between different political parties seeking to gain powers, etc.

- Activity in their regions will be investigated based on the reports from the participating regional organizations, media monitoring, personal verdicts, etc.



5) Position on Reforming Bills and Policies

- Whether they have strongly opposed to or led in twisting the civil society뭩 efforts on various reforming bills and policies on political reform, human rights, environment, women뭩 right, welfare, labor issues, Chaebol reform, anti-corruption, etc.

- This will be based on the monitoring by the organizations from each sector. However, whether the problematic points are against reformation is to be decided according to the consensus of the majority of the citizens. Also, only certain anti-reform activity will be considered because the majority of the participating organizations need to agree upon the issue.



6) Morale and Qualification

- Questionable behavior as an official: cursing, fighting, sexual harassment, discriminative expression, etc.

- Insincere to civil duty (such as military service or paying tax) or immoral type of assets or career



7) Thorough Examination and Overall Evaluation

The above points guided the direction of collecting information and investigation to build a basic profile database on 307 persons who are or have been serving for the 16th session of the National Assembly. In selecting the ineligible, each index has been completely examined to make an overall evaluation.

Structure of the CAGE 2004

As of February 10, 301 organizations are participating in the CAGE 2004. With an additional 100 organizations estimated to be added, this is much smaller size compared to the CAGE 2000. Back then, the campaign started with some 410 organizations and the number of participating organization doubled in just several weeks. This smaller size of the CAGE this time reflects the current that the Korean civil society is moving towards various and more specialized election campaigns.

Here is a brief description of how the CAGE 2004 is organized:



National Council is formed by executive representatives from all the participating organizations to the CAGE 2004.

Co-Representatives Group consists of 15 representatives from different sectors (advocacy, environment, professors, media, law, culture, education, human rights, reunification, etc.) and 15 regional representatives.

Executive Committee consists of 40 people of those who are responsible for each sector and region, Chiefs of Special Action Groups, Legal Support Group and Policy Committee, and Co-Secretaries General.

Co-Directors of Executive Committee consists of ten Executive Committee members (Five from the sectors and five from regions). It includes Kim Kisik (People뭩 Solidarity for Participator Democracy), Suh Juwon (Korean Federation of Environment Movements), Chi Geumjong (Cultural Action), and Kim Jeseon (Citizens Solidarity for Participation and Self-Government in Daejon).

Special Action Groups support the activity of the CAGE in specific areas: Voters Committee, Public Relation Committee, Citizens Report Center, Corrupt Politics Expelling Campaign Center, and Young Voters Campaign Center.

Legal Support Group provides legal advice on the activities of the CAGE.

Policy Committee theorizes voters campaigns, such as blacklisting and money election monitoring. It also functions as advisory group. The committee consists of professors of politics, sociology and law who are acting in the CAGE-participating organizations, plus experts.

Civil Action Group monitors money election and corruption during campaign and election.

Local CAGE in each province and major cities enhances the work of CAGE.

The Common Secretariat is the common office with co-secretaries general and activists for planning, organizing, Internet site management, public relations, general management, etc. The common secretariat is located in the office of the PSPD. Just as in 2000, the PSPD is again playing a major and crucial role in this voters campaign.



After Announcing the Blacklist Through this campaign, the CAGE 2004 asks each political party that they go through self-examination. Those politicians who are related to corruption and evaluated as incapable of law-making should be eliminated in the process of candidate draft. The CAGE 2004 will campaign against these politicians so that they give up running for this election themselves and, further, retire from their political careers.

The CAGE 2004 will spread its blacklist as far as it can, organize the electorate for strong opposition against the corrupt and ineligible politicians, and, finally, actually eliminate those out-of-date politicians from the Korean politics. Whether to end corrupt and worn-out politics or to accept the current situation with despair and anger, it is up to the voters. The Korean civil society has declared to get together, just like four years ago, to make another voters revolution.
Center for National Assembly Watch
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