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LKP delays decision on lawmakers’ fates

After maligning Gwangju movement, the 3 may face probe
Feb 14,2019
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s (LKP) disciplinary committee on Wednesday failed to decide the fate of three lawmakers who stirred public rage for denigrating the Gwangju Democratization Movement.

Five members of the Ethics Committee of the LKP held a meeting to discuss possible punishment for Reps. Kim Jin-tae, Kim Soon-rye and Lee Jong-myeong.

At a public forum hosted by Kim Jin-tae and Lee Friday, the three lawmakers and conservative political scientist Jee Man-won stirred controversy by arguing the May 18 to 27, 1980 democratization movement was a riot influenced by North Korea.

Since the Kim Young-sam administration’s reevaluation in 1993, the uprising has been recognized as a democratization movement.

In 1997, the government designated May 18 as an official memorial anniversary by law and has held an annual commemoration ceremony.

According to LKP Secretary General Kim Yong-tae, the ethics committee members failed to reach an agreement, and they will meet again this morning for further discussion.

About 200 supporters of Kim Jin-tae came to the LKP headquarters Wednesday to protest the lawmaker being referred to the committee for disciplinary action.

The protesters then moved to a nearby building where the ethics committee was supposed to meet.

Six police buses came in to the party headquarters case violence broke out.

The committee members then changed their meeting venue and held a secret meeting. After four hours of discussion, they failed to reach a decision. The heaviest punishment they can deliver is expulsion from the party.

If Reps. Kim Jin-tae and Kim Soon-rye are punished with a disciplinary action heavier than a warning, their eligibility to run in the LKP’s leadership election will be revoked.

The conservative party will hold its national convention on Feb. 27. Rep. Kim Jin-tae is running for the party chairmanship and Rep. Kim Soon-rye is running for a spot on the LKP’s Supreme Council.

While the disciplinary committee debates the fate of the lawmakers, advocacy groups for the Gwangju democratization movement visited the National Assembly Wednesday and met with the LKP’s interim leader, Kim Byung-joon, to complain about the situation.

They urged the party to kick out the three lawmakers. Kim offered them an apology and promised stern punishments.

A civic group also filed a complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office, urging them to investigate Jee and the lawmakers for defamation.

A petition to expel the three lawmakers from the National Assembly is also pending in the legislature. It was submitted by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and three other opposition parties, but it remains to be seen whether a vote will actually take place to decide their fate.

In order to expel an incumbent lawmaker from the National Assembly, more than two-thirds of the current members of the legislature must agree.

As of now, expulsion requires votes from more than 199 out of the current 298 lawmakers, so some LKP lawmakers’ support would be necessary.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]