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PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Civil-Political
  • 2000.07.31
  • 705

The CAGE Newsletter 2 : Big Bang in Korean Politics


The Civil Action for 2000 General Election (CAGE) released the list of 67 politicians unqualified to stand in the coming general election in April. There was a press conference at Press Center in order to release the list and give a detailed explanation of how the list was made. The press conference was lively covered by major TV companies. It was the first time that the press conference of civil groups is lively covered by TV in Korea. The list included many influencing politicians both in the ruling and the opposition parties. The former prime minister Kim Jong-pil, former speaker of the parliament, Kim Soo-han and Hwang Nak-joo were included in the list.

President supports the CAGE

The Chosun Daily News reported the response of the present; "it could be understood as part of a movement from an indirect democracy to a more direct democracy, and the politicians should learn to go with the current trend." The president Kim Dae-jung added that "in the short term, the movements by civic activist groups are caused largely by the inability of politicians to handle political issues."

Great support from the public

The citizens' response to the release of the list could anticipate big bang in Korean politics. According to an opinion poll conducted by MBC (a major TV/radio company) and Korea Gallup, 73.3% of the respondent replied that they would withdraw their support of politicians in the list even though they had supported them before; 68.9% of the respondent replied that the list was made with fairness, whereas the politicians included in the lists said that they doubted impartiality of the list. This shows that the majority of citizens extended their support to the activities of the CAGE.

More civic groups are joining

When the CAGE was launched on the 12th of January, 412 civic organizations joined, however, the number of the joining organizations reached 476 when the list was released. Not only the citizens but civic groups in Korea extended their support to the CAGE even more strongly. This became a real challenge to the corrupted politics in Korea. It is also anticipated that the citizens' dream of political reform is very likely to be come true in reality in the near future.

How the list was made!

A Preparatory Committee

A Preparatory Committee for the CAGE established "Investigation Team for Politicians" on 22, December in 1999. The team was composed of 12 activists from various civil organizations and 10 volunteers. They collected all the available factual material of politicians to be examined in more minute evaluation in the CAGE. They collected the material for one month, focusing on 329 members of the parliament. The material includes all the reports by the parliament, their property reports, reports by mass media, juridical reports and reports by all the civic groups. And 171 members also sent their own explanatory reports to the committee, which also was taken into consideration.

The criteria

After collecting all the available material, the CAGE made criteria for the list, which was primarily based on the result of an opinion poll conducted on the 9th of January. The criteria were announced on the 12th of January when the CAGE was launched: corruption, violation of election law, anti-human rights career, parliamentary activities and personal material including tax payment, army service in case of male etc. The Executive Committee of the CAGE narrowed the number to 95 members to be critically examined on the 15th of January.

100 Voters Committee

100 Voters Committee was specially created to represent ordinary citizens' opinion. The members of the Committee were selected throughout the country following a poll by Korea Gallup to act as jury for the list. They were composed of 51 male and 49 female members; 27 in their 20s, 28 in 30s, 19 in 40s and 26 over 50s; 11 in agriculture, 12 self employed, 17 from factory workers, 14 from office workers, 5 of university students, 33 housewives and the rest. Regionally 25 came from Seoul, 25 from Inchon and Kyungki-do, 16 from Pusan and Kyungnam, 11 from Taeku and Kyungbuk, 11 from Honam, 8 from Chungchong and 1 from Cheju-do following the ratio of population of region.

The Representative Board

They screened the list of 95 members made by the Executive Committee and handed it in to the Representative Board. The Board selected 77 among 95 on the 18th of January. The list of 77 was screened again by the Policy Advisory Committee on the 19th and self-explanatory reports by politicians were taken into account at this stage. On the 22nd, the list was scrutinized by 100 Voters Committee again and then by Lawyers' Advisory Team. And finally, the list was made on the 23rd and released on the 24th of January at the press conference.

In order to avoid a dispute of fairness in the process of making the list, the CAGE did its best as explained above. This thoughtful procedure was welcome by the citizens, and the list was accepted with trust by almost all the citizens but some politicians included in the list.

Next Step Forward

Even though the list released by the CAGE is supported by almost all the citizens, the political parties in Korea seems very reluctant to accept the list as an urgent reality. One of the ruling coalition, Liberal Democratic Federation, even insists without ground that the activities of the CAGE is manipulated by the government. And some politicians included in the list reacted against the CAGE. However, their preposterous reactions never gain public sympathy.

The second release of the list

In the meantime, the CAGE planned next steps forward in order to achieve political reform. First, the second list is going to be released in the very near future. The first list released on the 24th was made from the present members of the parliament only. There are many politicians who were not screened in the first list, but are very likely to stand in the coming general election. This time the emphasis is put on the politicians who were not taken into consideration in the first lists. There have been thousands of phone calls from citizens asking why such and such politicians were not included in the list. But this time, the list is made evaluating politicians who are not members of the parliament at the moment.

A nation wide mass rally

There will be a mass rally to support the CAGE and to drive its activity forward to rule out the politicians in the list by the civil power at 1 p.m. on the 30th. The 30th of January is named the Recovery Day of People's Right. The rally is going to be held in six major cities throughout the country at the same time. In this rally, yellow cards will be given to the politicians in the list like in football match. They do not give up candidates for a member of the parliament even after booked by the CAGE, red card will be given and they will be sent off the ground of politics by citizens' direct action.

Announcement

The activities of the CAGE are going forward with great support from the public. However, there are few responses from civic groups abroad since the newsletter 1 was released up to now. If you are interested in the activities of the CAGE in Korea, and you really want to support its campaign to rule out corrupted politicians, could you send us a statement of support under the name of your organizations please? Otherwise, if you have any experience of the same kind of campaign, could you send us some detailed information about it? Your response of any kind will encourage the CAGE and the citizens' will toward political reform in Korea. We are looking forward to your immediate reply. Thank you very much.

The Civil Action for 2000 General Election in Korea (the CAGE)
175-87 Anguk-Dong 2F New Anguk Bldg Chongno-Ku Seoul,110-734 KOREA
Tel +82-2-732-0413 Fax -733-0413 e-mail: ngo0413@chollian.net, pspdint@pspd.org
PSPD

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