The Saenuri Dang and Democratic Party have finally reached an agreement to form a special committee to reform the NIS, in light of the twitter electioneering performed by NIS agents during the last election:
. . . the NIS reform committee will have the right to review and pass bills. It will be operational through February 2014.
It will consist of seven lawmakers from each party and be headed by Representative Chung Se-kyun, a fifth-term Democratic lawmaker. “I feel an immense historical responsibility,” Chung said in a statement after being selected. “I think turning the NIS into an agency that citizens can rely on, rather than one they fear, is the task of the times.” (link)
Under the direction of Won Sei-woon, indicted former Director of the NIS, a group of NIS agents posted and reposted up to 22 million messages, in support of Park Geun-hye’s campaign:
Prosecutors isolated a primary group of 383 “definite” accounts, including ones admitted to by NIS agents, and found that messages from those accounts had simultaneously gone out to another 2,270 accounts, which were found to be shared by NIS agents. By looking at the total of 2,653 accounts administered by the agents, they found 22 million tweets that were posted or linked between January 2011 and December 2012.
The committee future agenda is agreed upon, only in principle, since both parties are still arguing over just how far reform should go and in what form “reform” will come in since there are upcoming elections that Saenuri Dang is worried about negative PR regarding their role in this fiasco :
(the) agreement laid out Tuesday night states that both parties will “continue discussing when to hold the special investigation, and the scope of the probe,” leaving room for further negotiations. (link)
As the editorial in the JoongAng Ilbo put it “The bipartisan initiative may be more productive than Park Geun-hye’s idea of encouraging the agency to reform itself.” (link), which, of course is like a gentleman’s spanking club – it sounds like punishment but seems more like strange entertainment.
A bipartisan plan is desperately needed to remedy the polarization of politics in South Korea, IMHO. Per an excellent essay, about the current state of South Korean politics, by Jamie Doucette and Se-Woong Koo:
(There has been) a broader shift in political discourse (in South Korea). For the purpose of discrediting its opponents, the broader South Korean right has returned to its cavalier use of the chimerical label chongbuk chwap’a: a term commonly translated as ‘pro-North leftists,’ encompassing not only suspected proxies of North Korea but anyone seen as deferential to the wishes of the North. The term ‘chong’ means to obey or follow, with connotations of being slavish, while ‘buk’ means North. Chwap’a stands for ‘left faction,’ or leftist. The way in which chongbuk has been coupled with chwap’a as a compound term in contemporary conservative discourse attempts to erase the distinction between what were originally two very different concepts, such that in the current political climate the left become synonymous with chongbuk, and vice versa. This terminology has been used to discredit groups from across the liberal-left opposition, including not only the UPP, but also Democratic Party politicians associated with the liberal administrations of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. These politicians have faced vilification by the right as chongbuk for assuming a conciliatory stance towards North Korea, and for seeking to reform the state apparatus designed by former military governments to contain dissent.
In this essay, we argue that this rhetorical shift has been accompanied by an expansion of what South Korean intellectuals term ‘politics by public security,’ a phrase used to describe the use of public security as a ground for stifling dissent and criticism. What is unique about the present moment is not simply the evocation of a threat to national security but the extent to which state agencies have been actively involved in this process, whether it be in the form of direct electoral interference, the leaking of confidential state documents, or the initiation of probes into prominent critics of the government from across the liberal-progressive opposition. In what follows, we examine the recent sequence of events from NIS electoral interference to the more recent move to disband the United Progressive Party in order to better understand distorting effects to Korean democracy brought about by this recent rhetorical shift and its intricate relation to ‘politics by public security.’
The link to this essay is here.