Human Rights Commissioner’s lie “I did not cut electricity and heating and cause a protester’s death”

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in Hankyoreh on Jul. 17, 2012, reporting the confirmation hearing of Korea National Human Rights Commission commissioner candidate Byeong-cheol Hyun, the incumbent commissioner who is accused of vegetating KNHRC by all human rights organizations and his own subordinates and independent human rights experts. All rights regarding this post stay with the author(s) of the original article or with Hankyoreh and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. In the post, I tried to match the English translation of names of people / institution(s) / position(s) to authentic one(s) as much as possible but, unfortunately, some of them still can be different. Original article of this post (in Korean) can be found in the link at the bottom.

Byeong-cheol Hyun’s testimony “I did not cut electricity and heating and cause a protester’s death,” an arrant lie


Unified Democratic Party (UDP) members of the reappointment hearing of Mr. Byeong-cheol Hyun, incumbent commissioner of Korea National Human Rights Commission, are asking for Mr. Hyun’s voluntary resignation from candidacy on Jul. 17. Photo by Chang-gwang Kang 강창광 기자 chang@hani.co.kr

Perjury and excuse at Human Rights Commissioner confirmation hearing

‘Not Used’ marked on the internal report

Former commission member Ms. Hyang-
sook Jang testifies “commonplace”

Denies responsibility 
on disciplinary actions against ‘leftwing employees’ from a handed-over list; “all done by the secretary general”

Incumbent commissioner of Korea National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) Byeong-cheol Hyun (68) is engulfed in a controversy of perjury at the National Assembly confirmation hearing on last Jul. 16. As actual facts of answers lied to National Assembly members’ questions piled up one after another, UDP decided to accuse him for perjury. ‘The Law on Testimony/Appraisal at National Assembly’ dictates that perjury at National Assembly hearings can be subjected to imprisonment from 1 to 10 years.

One testimony that UDP takes the most seriously is Mr. Hyun’s perjury on the incident that a disabled activist died of acute pneumonia after  an occupation sit-in at the KNHRC office in Dec. 2010.

UDP Rep. Ha-na Jang asked commissioner Hyun at the hearing on Jul. 16 if “you stopped the elevator operation and cut electricity and heating to the sit-in site.” Commissioner Hyun answered “I never did that. It is a rented office. Only the owner of the building can do that. As a tenant, we are not allowed to do that.” (Translators note: In Dec. 2010, disabled people’s organizations staged a sit-in protest at KNHRC office for not doing enough to improve disabled people’s human rights. In the building KNHRC was in at 2010, toilets for disabled people were at a floor other than that KNHRC was in and, because of that, elevator operation was very important for disabled people in the KNHRC office floor not to mention the electricity and heating in Dec., frosty winter time.)

But, Rep. Jang retorted “I checked the managing company of the building KNHRC was in. They confirmed that the cooling and heating in that building could be adjusted by floors or by offices. They also confirmed that, in numerous occasions, KNHRC asked the manager to turn on the electricity and heating even at holidays and they actually did as asked.” and then added “It is an outright perjury to answer that KNHRC was not in the position to do anything on it.”

Former standing member of KNHRC Ms. Hyang-sook Jang who appeared at the hearing as a witness also said “Contrary to candidate Hyun’s testimony that he has never stopped the elevator operation, the elevator operation was stopped on numerous occasions even when I was in KNHRC. I can’t understand that he said he had not done that. What the building manager said is right.” Commissioner Hyun’s perjury was exposed in just a few hours.

Commissioner Hyun’s comment on the the issue of the exposure of North Korea defectors’ addresses is also noted as a perjury. To UDP Rep. Mr. Won-sik Woo’s question if “you got permissions from the Ministry of Unification and North Korean Refugees Foundation,” commissioner Hyun replied “Of course I did. I’ve got official documents.” But, revealing documents from both organizations, Rep. Woo said “Ministry and Foundation confirmed that they did not permitted to expose the addresses.”

Commissioner Hyun also insisted on excuse comments like “I have no idea.” When Saenuri Party Rep. Mr. Se-chool Park raised a concern on commissioner Hyun’s comments like ‘nigger’ to black people and ‘barbarian’ to Mongolian students, he dodged it by saying that “I made lots of comments but I don’t remember exactly when, where and to whom I made those comments.”

When UDP Rep. Mr. Gwan-yeong Kim asked a question about disciplinary actions against ‘leftwing employees’ in a list from the Blue House in Oct. 2009, he dumped everything to one of his subordinates, “secretary general took care of the list incident. Things directly handed down from BH were all taken care of by him.”

The Korean Government Employees’ Union KNHRC branch announced on Jul. 17 that “commissioner Hyun said at the hearing that ‘I ordered KNHRC secretariat to investigate the Yongsan disaster actively’ but it is something everyone would be laughing at. The personal note of the investigator who was in charge of the case on the KNHRC open bulletin board clearly reveals commissioner Hyun’s perjury.”

Reporters Myeong-seon Jin, Hyeong-joon Yoon 진명선 윤형중 기자 torani@hani.co.kr

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