On July 21, Song Du-yul, a South Korean scholar at a German university who was charged with breach of the National Security Law (NSL), was sentenced to a five-year stay of execution. A high court overturned an earlier ruling.
This decision was very controversial because the judgment is regarded as the court's attempt to re-evaluate the NSL. In line with this, 46 lawmakers, of the ruling Uri Party, organized a committee for abolishing the NSL. On the other hand, Park Geun-hye, the chairperson of the Grand National Party, (GNP) said that the GNP opposed it. We will consider the pros and cons about abolishing the NSL from both sides.
<Organizing Committee for Abolishing the NSL>
On Aug. 4, the Uri party made public a list of the names of committee members for abolishing the NSL. And they started a campaign to get lawmakers' signatures.
Several reasons for their proposal; ▲It is an unconstitutional law ▲ The NSL is a duplicate of criminal law ▲It interferes with the law of exchange and cooperation between South and North Korea ▲Liquidating the past
Main point of the proposal: Not only abolishing the NSL but also rescind the clauses related to the NSL.
While the opposition GNP opposes the Uri party's proposal, some lawmakers are attempting to abolish the NSL. And the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), which includes some leaders of pro-democracy movements in the 1980s, welcomed the proposal with open arms.
->자료 삽입 (국가보안법에 의해 수감되었던 인원에 대한 분포)
< Main Point of the Issue>
1) Differences over current situation
First, each group has different circumstantial thoughts at the present time. Groups supporting the proposal believe that the South-North relationship has become more intimated. And they also assert that the very existence of the NSL is contrary to the trend of the times. But opposition groups said that nothing has changed between south and North Korea.
2) Considering National security
Both sides shout with one voice that national security should be protected firmly. Opposition groups, however, consider the NSL as a essential law to protect our security. And they worry about the situation after its abolition. But supporting groups have opposite views.
3) An outrage upon constitutional Personal Rights
Supporting groups insist that the NSL has been abusing its powers, because it could be applied to anyone abstractly. But opposition groups assert that irrational facts have decreased through constant efforts.
4) Other countries' case
In 1991, Taiwan, in a similar situation with us, had abolished a special law which was similar to the NSL. And the NSL goes against world opinion. These are two of the supporting group's reasons.
On the other hand, opposition groups base their argument on similar laws as the NSL exist in advanced countries such as the U.S. and Germany.
<Citizens Taking Part in the Problem Actively>
Over the past 56 years, a dispute over abolishing the NSL has existed. And, now, citizens lead this controversy. On the web community, citizens of both sides have formed groups to express their position. Currently the supporters are conducting a campaign to obtain ten million signatures. And the opposition will hold a large-scale demonstration in the middle of September. This participation suggests that the public takes this issue very seriously, which is good. Because citizens are trying to solve this problem through public dialog.
Interview with Hong Se-hwa, a planning committeeman of Hankyoreh
The NSL has abused our society for a long time and helped former governments to stay in power under the mask of "national security." So it was a barrier not only to advancing our nation's democratic growth but also to the freedom of expression. Even several younger groups who were taught by them still support the NSL' through continuing the national security atmosphere so as to keep their high position. Now, however, their influence is on the ebb.
Actually, up to now, we couldn't find out the ruling parties' will to abolish the NSL. But, now, the situation has changed so it is likely to ride a surge of pro-abolition.
We have seen one example, professor Song's case. It shows us that the new era is here. Through abolishing the NSL, our democracy can take a leap forward.
<Interview with Seo Jeong-gab, the chairman of the Union of Colonels>
The NSL is very essential to protect national security; it never had a bad influence on the public. The NSL only punished people who had disquieting thoughts.
Generally, people believe abolishing the NSL is associated with peace between the North and South. However, they ignore the North's dreadful conspiracy. But laws to protect national security exist everywhere including the U.S.. We merely call this law "NSL". Of course, we can accept a partial amendment of the NSL, but some provisions should be intensified. Abolishing the NSL would bring about a serious crisis. We should remember this fact.
The fact that the NSL contains unreasonable clauses is admitted by both sides. However, we should consider which proposal will bring us the best results. Abolishing? Partial amendment? To keep pace with the times, we should throw out the irrationality of the past and reinforce our nation's strong points. Now we are living in the "new" times; so we should have a "new" mind. The public should adjust their views to the new situation. It is better to be in harmony each other. It will lead us in the right direction.
Choi Young-jun firstname.lastname@example.org
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