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Getting Smart – A Bipartisan Plan For Reforming The NIS and Its Role in A Democracy?

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)


Former NIS Director Won Sei-hoon took direction from . . . ?

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.

About the author: Psst, want to buy some used marble cheap?

  • bballi

    honestly….who throws a shoe?

  • seouldout
  • Anonymous_Joe

    Absolutely love the title and the pic, reminds me of two classics, Secret Asian Man, which if the producers got smart would have been the theme to the show..

    There’s a man who leads a life of danger.
    To everyone he meets he stays a stranger.
    With every move he makes another chance he takes.
    Odds are he won’t live to see tomorrow.

    Secret Asian Man
    Secret Asian Man
    They’ve given you a number and taken away your name.

    Don Adams was a great comedic actor and, little known fact, full-blooded Asian.
    …You find that hard to believe.
    Would you believe half?
    ….You don’t think so.
    How about he once cracked a fortune cookie at a Chinese buffet?

    When he died, Lady Mondegreen attended when they laid him on the green.

    (Pawi, easy now….put down the shoe, it’s a phone.)

  • Bob

    I throw the towel. I’m done with this country. It’s run by a bunch a amateurs. I’ll be going back home by the end of next year.

  • bigmamat

    Am I being simple minded when I say that these things can at least be mitigated by passing legislation similar to the Hatch Act? I’m not very well informed about how SK government works but without any real criminal penalties for this kind of behavior there isn’t much incentive to stop.

  • SpongeBob5

    Best Song & Video of 2013
    Cezara-Lucia Vlădescu – MORPHINE – (Official Video)

  • RElgin

    You miss the POINT of the meme.

    The show “Get Smart” featured two secret agencies: CONTROL and CHAOS. If you read the linked article at the end of this thread, the political climate in South Korea today is very much divided in very similar terms.

    Saenuri Dang has positioned itself as CONTROL was in the show, fighting on the side of good, so to speak. Minju Dang, UPP, et. al. are CHAOS, meaning not good, chaos, anarchy, North Korean, the enemy of all things good. There is a lesson there because too much “control” is fascism and not healthy. The Democratic Party is certainly no symbol of “chaos” though they have some truly clueless and classless members. By attempting to portray Minju Dang is being pro-North Korean, CHAOS, evil, Saenuri Dang is attempting to justify their use of state agencies in trying to influence an election. As a result, Saenuri Dang has become as much an enemy of the people as North Korea could be, politically speaking.

    This is a very serious situation for Koreans and better responsible leadership had better assert its self before the situation becomes much worse. Frankly, the current president seems to be content in saying little and doing nothing. That is not the leadership the country needs.

  • ryuNchoosk

    How doesn’t the NIS governance and election interference get it banned from the Olympics? And how many S. Koreans have been charged with criminal offenses yet are connected to its Olympics?

    “India faces Olympic ban over ‘rules of good governance’ says IOC”
    “International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says India face
    expulsion from the Olympic movement unless they comply with ethics
    India were suspended by the IOC last year because of government interference in its election process.
    They have yet to agree to IOC demands to bar officials who have been
    charged with a criminal offence – an impasse which has led to the final

  • RElgin

    That subject belongs in the open thread and not here.

  • RElgin

    If you are returning to the U.S., you will find it to have it’s own issues as well.

  • Bob

    Luckily for me, I’m not American.

  • RElgin

    Cheers then.

  • Juniper

    You beat me to it. I was gonna say Muntazer al-Zaidi does!

  • Juniper

    You know, I guess it took living in Korea for a couple decades for me to realize how fucking dirty the idea of the Maxwell Smart shoe-phone is. Disgusting!

    But living here this long has also made me realize what copy-cats Koreans are. Look at the original pic of Maxwell Smart and then look at the one of the Korean guy above.

    It’s a carbon copy. These two images should have been set side by side in news articles during the Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy court case, with a caption like Korea has a long history of copying American telephonic innovation.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    No, I understood the point of the meme, perhaps not to the depth or in such intricate detail as you explained it.

    Barbara Feldon (whom I called ‘Babs’), known to you as Agent 99 (69 to me) were once an item. Yeah, I shagged her.

    Would you believe I met her at a trade show and asked her out?

    How about I used to masturbate to her obsessively as I watched her in Saturday afternoon syndication on my sofa and she got a restraining order against me after I met her at that trade show?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I coincidentally came across the same Maxwell Smart shoe phone photo last night while I was looking at 9/11 conspiracy theories and their adherents.


    I remember reading in one of the English dailies that these ” special committees” never meet and the members get a stipend for doing nothing.

  • RElgin

    These guys have plenty of motivation to meet, however I would bet that the Saenuri Dang faction are going to drag their feet doing anything substantial since they currently are embedded with the police, prosecutors, NIS, tax ministry, etc., who can use their state powers to unduly influence many things.

    I hoping they will prove my suspicions wrong though.

  • Juniper

    Wish down-voter would be specific. A) You disagree that putting your mouth near where you stepped in puke is gross. B) The 2 pictures do not look identical. C) These two images would not well illustrate the copy cat claims of Apple and be humorous. (Hint: there’s no right answer here!)


    You mean the DUP has motivation to meet? Surely the Saenuri Dang is going to keep denying everything and I’m sure they’ll fight over when to meet etc etc. I’m surprised this much evidence has been released so far given how much they’re controlling everything as you previously mentioned.

  • bumfromkorea

    Yeah, it’s as if the korean picture was photoshopped from the maxwell smart picture to mock the person in question. Almost like one of them internet meme, but more of a copycatting because koreans are involved.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    DP representative calls last year’s election a fraud, demands a new election for president, and warns that PGH “may share the fate of her father”. (Video: http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=154061 )

    Representative Chang Ha-na of the main opposition Democratic Party on Sunday called last year’s presidential election a fraud and demanded a new election for president be called in June. Senior DP lawmaker Yang Seoung-jo added fuel to the fire on Monday by saying that President Park Geun-hye may share the fate of her father, the late President Park Chung-hee, if she refuses to listen to the people.

  • RElgin

    That DP representative can not claim to speak for a large portion of Koreans. Though the Saenuri Dang has acted poorly in all this, the country does not need the chaos of another election, pardon the pun.

    The DP rep should be careful that he does not share the fate of that chicken I ate yesterday – it is behind me already.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I don’t know how the DP representative got away without at least a knock on the door from the Korean Secret Service for what she had said or at least implied.

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