I hate this new format. I hate it with passion. I seriously considered quitting MH altogether. But there is just too much good stuff in Korean politics to ignore — so here they are:
- Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? In prison! Lee Sang-Deuk, a former National Assembly member of the older brother of the president, was arrested on the charges of receiving bribes from corporations, in particular savings banks that were facing the government-induced elimination. While there have been many instances of corruption surrounding the president’s family in Korean history, this is the first time in which: (1) a brother of the sitting president was arrested during the president’s term, and (2) the said brother had an independently meaningful political power.
- S.H.I.E.L.D. Namely, NFP’s stance on its Assembly member Jeong Du-Eon. Jeong is also alleged to have received bribes from the same savings banks along with Lee Sang-Deuk. As an incumbent Assembly member, Jeong can be arrested only if the National Assembly votes in favor of such arrest. Yesterday, the NFP voted a gainst allowing the arrest, contrary to its earlier pledge that it would curb its Assembly members’ legislative privilege. This did not even fly well internally within the NFP — Lee Han-Gu, NFP’s majority leader, resigned his post in protest. It must also be noted that the number of votes against the arrest exceeded the number of NFP Assembly members, which likely means that certain members of the progressive parties voted against the arrest as well. The speculation is that those progressive members who also voted against the arrest was shielding Park Ji-Won, a former confidant of Kim Dae-Jung who is also suspected of receiving bribes from the same savings banks.
- Heads Roll. Because of the embarrassing botching of the intelligence-sharing treaty with Japan, the Blue House sacked one of its secretaries, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sacked its director of Northeastern Asia bureau.
- So Nice When They Show Themselves. Racist groups caused a ruckus at a policy seminar regarding multiculturalism in Korea, hosted by Lee Jasmine, the first non-ethnic Korean Assembly member. They claimed that multicultural policies are a ploy to eradicate the Korean race, and called those who tried to stop them “traitors.”
- Tell Us What You Really Think. Here’s someone who cannot stomach the idea of Park Geun-Hye becoming the president — former president and the founder of NFP (or its previous incarnation,) Kim Young-Sam. In a conversation he had with Gov. Kim Moon-Soo (who is also running for presidency,) Kim Young-Sam said: “It is ridiculous that the daughter of an 18-year dictator would become the president. It is against the course of history.” When Kim Moon-Soo noted that he was trailing so far behind Park that it is as if a rabbit is hunting a lion, Kim Young-Sam retorted that Park was a moron, not a lion.
- The Thinning Field. The time to put up or shut up is drawing near, and many potential presidential candidates are shutting up. Chung Dong-Yeong, the progressives’ presidential candidate in the previous election, declared that he would not run again. Chung Mong-Joon and Lee Jae-Oh also declared that they would not participate in NFP’s primary, in protest of NFP’s decision not to hold an open primary.
- Well, That Would Explain All the Killing. Hong Sa-Deok, head of Park Geun-Hye’s campaign team, is in hot water for stating in a press conference: “It is absurd to demand Park Geun-Hye to denounce May 16,” i.e. Park Chung-Hee’s coup d’etat. In 2007, Park Geun-Hye stated in a presidential debate that she considered May 16 to be a “nation-saving revolution.” Hong further said that while the subjects of Goryeo may consider Yi Seonggye’s founding of Joseon to be a coup, King Sejong would consider it a revolution — and Park’s stance is the same as King Sejong’s.