“Investigation of the truth of NIS scandal”… 100 thousand citizens gathered at candlelight rallies nation-wide demand

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <The Kyunghyang Shinmun> on Aug. 10, 2013, reporting mass candlelight rally against National Intelligence Service (NIS) that is under fire for its highly suspicious role during last presidential election and exposed interference with domestic politics which is strictly prohibited by law during last government and against President Geun-hye Park who does not show any responsible reaction to mounting public demand for NIS reform and. Though this post is based on a slightly outdated news, there was nothing significant from those responsible since then despite tumultuous developments during National Assembly’s inquiry on this matter and the candlelight rally is still going on in Seoul Square. All rights regarding this post stay with the author(s) of the original article or with <The Kyunghyang Shinmun> 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.

By Eun-ha Park and Han-sol Kim 박은하·김한솔 기자 eunha999@kyunghyang.com

In August 10th afternoon, the biggest crowd of citizens since the start of candlelight rally condemning National Intelligent Service (NIS) political scandal turned up at Seoul Square before Seoul city hall.

It was a sweltering muggy summer day in Seoul, Korea. Sweats were rolling down even along the back of reclining bodies but 50~60 thousand (16 thousand by police estimate) citizens packed the whole Seoul Square. Organizers claimed, when those who joined rallies simultaneously held nation-wide in other cities like Busan, Daejeon, Daegu and Ulsan, over 100 thousand turned up and lighted their candlelights altogether.

Those who came to the rally demanded “Regardless of your political inclination or political party that you support, the candlelight rally is citizens’ movement to straighten up democracy in this land.” and added “Though Prosecution’s investigation and National Assembly’s inquiry on this matter are going on, there still are lots of thing to be unravelled. They are President’s responsibility.”

<Photo 1>
Citizens who turned up at “100 thousand citizens’ candlelight rally” at Seoul Square in August 10th are condemning NIS that is suspected of interfering with presidential election and domestic politics. Photo by Moon-seok Kim 김문석 기자 kmseok@kyunghyang.com

■ Many family participants … “We want to hand down righteous society to our children.”

Many family participants who brought their young children with them were spotted at the rally. Mr. Jong-beom Lee (40) who appeared at the rally with a daughter of primary 1 and a son of age 5 said “Last presidential election, I took selfie’s with my children at voting station and taught them the importance of fair election. It’s really distressing that I have to tell my daughter that there was politicking by NIS during that election.” He then added that “At college, I participated in students’ movement not to hand down this kind of society to my children. It’s preposterous that this kind of thing still goes on.”

<Photo 2>
A citizen is looking down her candlelight during “100 thousand citizens’ candlelight rally” at Seoul Square in August 10th. Photo by Moon-seok Kim 김문석 기자 kmseok@kyunghyang.com

Mr. Joong-hoon Kwak (45, Euijeongbu city) also said “I thought government’s political interference was a thing possible only during the 70s Yoosin period. It’s really embarrassing that this kind of thing is going on right now. I come to this rally because I hope our country will be a more virtuous and transparent place when my daughter grows up.”

Participants expressed their frustration that the government and ruling Saenuri party did not show any responsible reaction despite continuing candlelight rally. A local company manager Mr. Pil-june Kim (42) said “During the mad-cow disease candlelight rally in 2008, there was a kind of expectation that citizens’ participation would make a difference. But, right now, the President and Saenuri party are not reacting to our rally at all. It’s really frustrating. Citizens of all backgrounds are turning up at candlelight rally every time but our voices are simply reflected back to us and do not seem to reach them.”

Mr. Park (45) from Anyang, Gyeonggi, said “I’ve never seen any news on this rally in TV or newspapers. I only saw news on this rally over the internet. Foreign news media seem to cover this rally a lot more extensively than our own media. It makes me think that they must be really trying to hide something or why they would block the news this much.”

<Photo 3>
Citizens who turned up at “100 thousand citizens’ candlelight rally” are shouting slogans condemning NIS that is suspected of interfering with presidential election and domestic politics at Seoul Square in August 10th. Photo by Moon-seok Kim 김문석 기자 kmseok@kyunghyang.com

■ “President should listen to voices piling up in this square” … ask for resignation of NIS director Jae-jun Nam and Mme. President’s apology

Mr. Chang-won Pyo, former professor of National Police College, stood at the podium and started as “Last winter, I threw my job away.” and continued “At that time, my former organization and colleagues backbited me as a betrayer or defector and put me into panic and terror. I was afraid I might just vanish alone. But, because of those who sacrificed their lives and shed blood in the street for the sake of our democracy, I am not harmed by anyone and can speak what I want to speak like this.”

Mr. Pyo then said “I could bring up all my courage that time because of the belief that time and history are always on the side of truth and justice. Also, it was because of you who did not hold back any support for me whom you never met in the internet or street.”

<Photo 4>
Citizens who turned up at “100 thousand citizens’ candlelight rally” are rallying at Seoul Square in August 10th condemning NIS that are suspected of interfering with presidential election and domestic politics. Photo by Moon-seok Kim 김문석 기자 kmseok@kyunghyang.com

Mr. Seok-woon Park, joint head of Korea Alliance of Progressive Movement, said “The director of NIS Mr. Jae-jun Nam alleges that meddling with presidential election was a part of legitimate psychological warfare at the National Assembly inquiry and that he exposed the South-North Summit dialogue under his own discretion without President’s sanction. We should shove Mr. Nam who pushes his own agenda doggedly ignoring democracy and constitution of our nation off from his post.” He then added “Even in this situation, President Mme. Geun-hye Park stepped off from them all saying that NIS should reform itself. We demand her who has the responsibility to defend our Constitution to apologize to our people for their repeated breach of national integrity and to take resolute measures about them.”

Mr. Hyung-chul Yeom, head of Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, also blasted “NIS not only interfered with presidential election but also carries out political manoeuvre by labeling all who oppose governmental policies as pro-North faction following North Korean commands. He then emphacized “We must accomplish NIS reform even for the sake of protecting our lives and our environment.”

■ Unified Democratic Party “We will fight in the street until President apologizes”

Meanwhile, Unified Democratic Party (UDP) held a 2nd on-the-street briefing convention demanding restoration of democracy and NIS reform at the same place before the canclelight rally. Mr. Han-gil Lim, head of UDP, said that “National Assembly-led NIS reform and President’s apology are urgently needed.” emphasizing the purpose of UDP’s out-of-the-floor activity once again. He then criticized recent government’s plan for tax code revision saying “Taxation bomb blew off at the site where democracy collapsed. They promised no tax hike during presidential election but it seems that only holds for chaebol and super-riches.” Whoping 115 UDP Reps and staffers attended the convention. Most of them stayed even after the convention and participated in the candlelight rally except for Rep. Jae-in Moon, possibly for fear of stirring up “rejection to presidential election outcome” controversy.

The same day, about 5000 members (police estimate) of conservative civil groups such as Korea National Police Veteran Association, Korea Freedom Federation, North Korea Democratization Commission also held a counter rally in front of National Human Rights Commission near Seoul Square. To prevent possible clash between the two rally participants, police dispatched 5,520 officers and 80 female officers around the Seoul Square and nearby streets like Sejong-no and Ulji-ro.

<Photo 5>
Citizens who appeared at “100 thousand citizens’ candlelight rally” are rallying at Seoul Square in August 10th condemning NIS that is suspected of interfering with presidential election and domestic politics. Many top brass of opposition parties and civil organizations also attended this rally. Similar rallies were simultaneously held nation-wide in cities like Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, Ulsan. Photo by Moon-seok Kim 김문석 기자 kmseok@kyunghyang.com

link: “국정원 진상 규명”…서울광장 촛불집회 10만여명 참여

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