The prosecution disparage Mdm President? .. Kuro-dong farm land extortion deja-vu story

> Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <CBS NocutNews, "Reporter Note" by Sang-Wook Byeon> under the Korean title ‘검찰이 대통령을 디스하다니 … 구로동 농지강탈 데자뷰‘ on Mar. 4, 2014, commenting on the prosecution’s disgraceful effort to mar the belated rewarding sense from recent court ruling for government’s indemnity to former farmers and their families who had been forced to give up their lands in Kuro-dong, Seoul, while building industrial complex there during Mdm President’s father’s regime. Through this mean spirited action, Senior report Byeon notices the deja-vu of Jung-hee Park’s brutal thuggish regime after 40 years in Geun-hye Park’s government. All rights regarding this post stay with the author(s) of the original article or with <CBS NocutNews> 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 above.

CBS NocutNews Sang-Wook Byeon CBS노컷뉴스 변상욱 대기자

*Senior Reporter Sang-Wook Byeon’s ‘Reporter Note’ delivers sharp criticisms to things unjust.*

‘Reporter Note’ on July 20, 2012, dealt with the ‘Kuro-dong farm land’ extortion case during Jung-hee Park’s regime. The story can be summed up like this:

▶ “About 200 farmers who had lived in Kuro-dong area of Seoul were commandeered of their rice paddies and fields that their fathers and their fathers’ fathers had cultivated for hundreds of years during the Japanese colonial period. As they retreated, the land became government-vested properties and later turned back to original owners through land reform. Just after the May 16 military coup, Jung-hee Park’s regime announced they would build an industrial complex there (Kuro export industry complex) and forcibly kicked those farmers away from the lands without any compensation. It was a total rampage; thugs were involved and police assisted them in the sideline. Farmers appealed to the law. Then, the military regime rounded up the farmers and government employees who had testified that the farmers had owned the land and manhandled them. Although some of those beaten down farmers and the government employees changed their testimonies later, the court sided with the farmers based on solid evidences of land ownership. Then, the farmers were dragged away again by the military regime. This time, they beat them up insisting to confess that they had fabricated documents during the court hearing and led a fraudulent lawsuit. Based on this, the military regime demanded a retrial but the court saw through the whole circumstance and raised the farmers’ hands once again.

The military regime got pressed this time. They were looking for a prolonged power seizure through the constitution amendment in 1969 that allowed third-term presidential re-election. To justify the third term, however, they needed something tangible, something like the Kuro industrial complex. Ministry of Law was ordered to extort the land no matter what. (Special directive from Blue House to the Minister of Law was later exposed.) Farmers and government employees were taken away on black jeeps (used by public security agents that time) again. Over a merciless brutality, they signed a false statement that they had led a fraudulent lawsuit. They were released later. About 40 farmers and others who could not give up their lands were put into prison for the charge of fraudulent lawsuit and perjury. But, in 2008, the farmers’ innocence was affirmed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And the farmers’ lawsuit to take their lands back started.

That day’s reporter note ended like this. ‘There is a ruling on the re-re-trial of it in court today, July 20, 2012. I root for them to surely take their lands back this time. This is an act of history correction after exactly 50 years since the authority treaded on powerless farmers. 50 years of farm land extortion. If there is no penitence and apology on it, this cannot even be a nation.”

**50 years have passed .. but nothing has changed**

The court has sided with the farmers and sentenced the government to compensate for the land one after another. Although it is not supposed to be done with current price but the cheap price at the time of industrial complex construction, farmers accepted it. Several lawsuits are going on right now but the most massive one was concluded in Seoul High Court in February 2014. Let’s read the titles of news articles that couriered the farmers’ win of the case.

“Court revived a dead lawsuit and sentences the biggest government compensation”
“Kuro industrial complex land recoup, farmers finally win after 47 years”
“Government ordered to compensate 11 billion won (10.3 million US $) for land extorted during Yushin period”

But, the story does not end like that.

Last weekend, representatives of the Kuro-dong land extortion victims who had led the lawsuit were rounded up by the prosecution. The prosecution seized and searched their houses and office and filed for arrest warrant to the court. They were suspected of violating the Attorneys-at-Law Act.

In 2004, these representatives or their parents started to visit and persuade victims who had slipped under the radar to participate in the recoup lawsuit. They set up a committee to restore disgraced reputation of Kuro-dong victim farmers and asked Truth & Reconciliation Commission to investigate their matter. Since they were vindicated by the Commission, they have played a leading role in appointing a lawyer and proceeding the lawsuit. For that, they had to sacrifice their own lives. Since they could not get any income out of anything, they had to sell their homes and borrow money for running the office and handling other expenses. So, the victim families held a meeting and decided though they could not do anything since they did not have any money that time, they would compensate for the efforts and expenses out of some of the indemnity they would get when they won the lawsuit. This agreement and contract became an issue here. The prosecution, though knowledgeable of the whole development, interpreted it differently. They decided to exchange money for introducing a lawyer to take up the case, a peddling influence and violation of Attorneys-at-Law Act. Also, since two of the representatives lost their cases up at the High Court, which rendered them as third party and were not eligible for representative but took the position anyhow, also an outright violation of Attorneys-at-Law Act.

But, the conviction of the prosecution that the victims’ effort to pool fund to make up for the representatives’ expenses is peddling influence looks truly narrow-minded. Would the loss of a trial due to lack of proper evidence or supporting material make the plaintiffs non-family members of victims? Likewise, would a son succeeding the land-extorted father’s own lawsuit be considered a third party? And that, the lawsuit still awaits Supreme Court’s final judgment ahead. What a prosecution! Miserable on common sense but formidable on details. How great it would be if they can meticulously find out evidences of NIA’s evidence tampering incident using their such an unforgiving power on details.

**They try so hard to chip away lady president’s prestige? .. No way!**

Being powerless, they were beaten down by political thugs even while their own lands were being taken away before their bare eyes. They were beaten down by authority again for filing a lawsuit. Winning the suit, they were rounded up and beaten down again to give it all up. Recouping the land after 50 years later with the help of national commission’s recognition and judiciary’s ruling, now they drag and lock them up once again for illegal brokerage. As a stroke of good luck in the midst of misfortunes, the prosecution’s application for arrest warrant was turned down by the court and the victims’ representatives were acquitted. But, will the prosecution stop there?

This is too much. Unless the prosecution do not intend to disparage Mdm President, they cannot act like this. It makes me really curious why they try so hard to expose her father’s heinous old corruption once again and create the sense of deja-vu while letting her be disgraced by unpleasant gossips and her government be assimilated with her father’s land extortion regime. If it is not and if this is the real direction our society is heading for at this time and the government is letting it to happen somehow … this cannot really be a nation.

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