Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"I'm Not Fine" Movement: President Park Geun-hye's Election Scandal

Oh man, where do I begin? I could probably do a whole series just on her...

Let's start with some basics.

Park Geun-hye is the 11th President of South Korea and the first woman head of state in modern history of Northeast Asia.

Elected in December 19, 2012, Park Geun-hye will be expected to serve her five year long term with no chance at re-election.

She was the de facto former head of the conservative Saenuri Party and was elected into the Blue House with a 51.6% of the vote to her opponent Moon Jae-in's 48%.

Since her election a number of political controversies have surrounded Park Geun-hye and her administration.  But perhaps the most glaring is the manipulation of public opinion by NIS (National Intelligence Service) during her run for office.

In the months before the election Kim Ha-young, a 29 year old female NIS agent, was one of the agents accused of posting political messages showing support of Park Geun-hye and slandering her opponents. The police with the support of the opposing Democratic party and the Central Election Assistance Committee surrounded the place where Ha-young was residing. 

Ha-young locked herself inside for three days igniting a tense political standoff.  Democratic party accused the intelligence service of blocking an investigation to which Park's Saenuri Party respond with protests that the opposition was harassing the young woman.  It took two days to acquire her computers and two more days to finally interview her.

With three days until the election and political debates finished, the chief of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, Kim Yong-pan, reported that no evidence of illegal online activities was found on Ha-young's laptop. However, four months after the election the police reversed its initial ruling and reported that two spy agents (one being Ha-young) affected politics by posting more than 120 political comments on the Internet

After months of scrutiny into the alleged election meddling, the prosecution concluded in mid-June 2013 that Won Sei-hoon, the NIS chief who also worked under former President, Lee Myung-bak (same party as Park), ordered agents to conduct online smear campaign against opposition presidential candidates.

According to The Philippine Star CCTV reported a police interview with the computer analyst who worked on Kim Ha-young's laptop, revealing that police knew prior to the election of NIS's illegal online postings.  Under suspicion of using his position to influence the election, Police Chief Yong-pan was prosecuted without physical detention on charges of abusing his authority to hamper the police investigation.

Had enough yet? It gets worse. 

After the election newly appointed Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wok was at odds with the Park Administration over how to deal with the alleged NIS intervention of the 2012 presidential election.
He tried to arrest NIS director, Won Sei-hoon for his role in the scandal without success.  On September 13th, 2013 Chae offered his resignation after allegations of him having an illegitimate son were widely circulated by the newspaper The Chosun Ilbo.

On September 14, 2013, The Hankyoreh, a Korean news source, confirmed many's suspicions that the Blue House had orchestrated these allegations in an attempt to pressure Chae off the case.  In response, Lee Jung hyun, the senior presidential secretary for public affairs, explained how a Blue House staffer (identified only as Cho) received the personal information of the woman and her son. Apparently it was a government worker at the Ministry of Security and Public Administration who asked the Blue House staffer to access the woman’s family history.  This information was illegally retrieved by the district official of Seocho, Cho Lee-je, previously a close aide to the former chief of the National Intelligence Service, Won Sei-hoon.

Chae has since filed a lawsuit requesting a correction report against the Chosun new agency but has apparently made no comment about the affiliation this scandal had with the Blue House. 

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of the legendary dictator Park Chung-hee who took control with a coup d'etat and overthrew the Korean Second Republic in 1961 and had South Korea under military rule for 18 years while holding the title President for Life. He's controversial because although he was seen as a repressive ruler who took away many personal freedoms he was also the one responsible for South Korea's amazing economic growth known as the Miracle on the Han River. This country would not be what it is today without him.

Is she following in her father's footsteps? I would like to look at a specific part of the letter that started the "I'm Not Fine" Movement. 
1. Yesterday, after striking for one day, thousands of workers lost their jobs. For no other reason than to oppose the privatization of the rail roads, 4,213 people were relieved from their positions. President Park Geun-hye punished the workers who protested against the privatization of the railroads, something which she herself promised that she would not engage in without first obtaining the people’s permission. It is possible that even the right to strike, which is part of the country’s “Labor Laws,” that were enacted after the self-immolation of Jeon Tae-il could also disappear. 
The apple not falling far from the tree is a legitimate concern for the movement and possibly the wider social order of South Korea. As residents here the least we can do is stay informed about the actions of the state that governs us and try to understand the implications and consequences of said actions.

The "I'm Not Fine" Movement Series:
   Part 1: The Letter
   Part 2: The Privatization of Korail 
   Part 3: President Park Geun-hye's Election Scandal

   Part 4: The Self-Immolation of Jeon Tae-il

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I came across this post while I was writing a story about the NIS scandal for my own blog. Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the article, and like what you guys are doing - some good insights and interesting stories on here (and unlike my blog, you seem to keep it updated pretty regularly.) Keep up the good work!