by WorldTribune Staff, May 22, 2020
An article in the May 8 edition of WorldTribune [Allegations of fraud in South Korean elections called warning on new voting technologies] attracted widespread attention in South Korea.
The liberal-left JTBC South Korean network challenged the report which cited the East Asia Research Center. Dr. Tara O, who heads the center, issued the first of a three-part response on May 17, 2020: Korean network challenges WorldTribune report on allegations of election fraud.
The following excerpts are from Part II of her response:
This is the second part of the response to South Korea broadcaster JTBC, which brought up three important issues in its reporting:
• Election fraud in South Korea
• Truth about the impeachment of South Korea’s president Park Geun-Hye
• ‘South Korean President Moon Jae-In is a spy’
Until the coronavirus stopped mass gatherings, a large group of South Koreans gathered weekly for over three years to protest South Korean President Park Geun-Hye’s impeachment and imprisonment and to demand her freedom.
Many in the West were led to believe that the impeachment Park was due to “corruption and bribery.” Ask South Koreans, however, and they will say it was “gookjeong nongdan” — the dictionary states “monopoly of state affairs,” but people understood it to mean that Park’s friend Choi Soon-Sil was running the country, not President Park. The proof? A “tablet PC,” so the story goes.
Related: Allegations of fraud in South Korean elections called warning on new voting technologies, May 8, 2020
JTBC’s infamous “tablet PC” story aired multiple times in October 2016, claiming that a certain tablet belonged to Cho Seo-Won (aka Choi Soon-Sil), that Choi “walked around with the tablet editing speeches and received meeting notes.”
Thus, this proves, according to the narrative, that Choi runs the country. As absurd and unfounded as the claim is, the reality is that this conjecture embarrassed and angered the public, and they joined very well-organized candlelight demonstrations – demonstrations created by the same groups, including the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, that also organized anti-U.S. beef demonstrations in 2008, among others.
There are more than a few now who regret that they joined the candlelight demonstrations, as they watch the increasing unemployment, falling exports, declining economic growth, and growing national debt, which were already occurring under the Moon administration before the coronavirus pandemic. They also have become disillusioned by the discoveries of massive corruption, such as the cases against Moon Jae-in’s Justice Minister Cho Kuk and the real estate speculation of the First Lady Kim Jung-Sook’s school cohort Sohn Hye-Won,
For challenging JTBC’s tablet story, JTBC sued 4 journalists, 2 of whom were sent to jail for “libel.”
Now out on bail after a year in prison, journalist Byun Hee-Jai had discovered that the tablet belonged not to Choi, but to Kim Han-Soo, the very person who pointed his finger at Choi, which is a false testimony and perjury by Kim Han-Soo. Choi has maintained that the tablet is not hers, and questioned the ever-changing claims by JTBC about where it obtained the tablet; JTBC expressed that it discovered the tablet in a trash can in Germany, then later from a trash can in Choi’s basement, and then later from a desk drawer in an office.
Although the tablet was useful in instigating public discontent, the court did not admit the tablet as evidence for impeachment, because there was no legal basis for it to be admitted as evidence, yet many candlelight goers are unaware that this was the case.
National Assembly votes to impeach in only 6 days
For a variety of political reasons, the National Assembly voted to impeach Park in only six days, with no hearings and no investigations. The National Assembly introduced the impeachment proposal on Dec. 3, 2016 and voted on it on December 6, 2016.
The impeachment bill contained a long list of charges, including “violating the freedom to choose one’s employment,” which makes one question how it is related to “gukjeong nongdan”.
“Gukjeong nongdan” is not even listed as a crime in any written South Korean legal code. Yet the National Assembly and the prosecution justified the impeachment as arising from “gukjeong nongdan,” and the news stories as “evidence.”
Of the 21 attachments to the impeachment bill, none were “evidence.” The attachments were 15 newspaper articles and charges against other people.
Without any hearings or investigations, the National Assembly impeachment bill charged that Park violated the following, which is strikingly extensive:
1. Citizen’s sovereignty and representative democracy
2. The Principle of Rule of Law
3. The President’s responsibility to defend and obey the Constitution
4. Career civil service system
5. The Power to appoint and dismiss given to the president
6. The Principle of equality
7. The Guarantee of private property
8. The Freedom to choose one’s employment
9. The State’s responsibility to guarantee basic human rights
10. The Market economy order based on economic freedom and private autonomy of individuals and corporations
11. Freedom of speech
There was “etc” just in case the list was not extensive enough, but the vague “etc” is not an impeachable offense. This is yet another example of how shoddy and rushed the impeachment resolution was.
The National Assembly also charged Park with “conducting a variety of crimes,” violating legal codes as follows: “Additional Punishment Law on Specific Crimes (Bribery), Interference with the Exercise of the Right to investigate Abuse of Authority, Compel, Leaking of Official Secrets, etc.”
Again, the vague term “etc.” is used, in addition to several criminal codes. A sitting president cannot be impeached for any of these criminal charges; the constitution section 84 states “The President shall not be subject to criminal prosecution while in office, except in cases of insurrection and treason.”
Many of these charges related to the idea that Choi interfered in state affairs (gukjeong nongdan), which is why the tablet is so crucial. If the tablet did not belong to Choi, essentially there is no “proof” of Choi “interfering in state affairs,” yet the tablet was never admitted to the court as “evidence,” because it could not legally fullfil that role. Even if Choi did provide advice, how is it an impeachable offense? The president should be able to seek counsel from others.
Another impeachment charge dealt with the Sewol Ferry sinking, blaming Park for the deaths. JTBC and other mass media played a major role in creating a damaging image of Park through inaccurate reporting and coverage of rumors about the “missing 7 hours,” which also angered the public, and added fuel to the candlelight impeachment demonstrations.
Each charge in the articles of impeachment should have been drafted as an individual charge in the document and a vote should have been taken on whether the president committed each charge in the articles of impeachment. Instead all of these charges were lumped into a single vote, making it impossible to consider the merits of each charge.
Any efforts to “prove” all these charges would take years to investigate. The lawmakers, many of whom did not even read the impeachment proposal, voted to impeach a sitting president in only six days after introducing such a proposal. There still has been no proof that Park Geun-Hye violated any laws or committed any of the crimes she was charged with. With no verification of facts, impeachment based only on suspicions is against the constitution.
Separation of the Legislative branch and the Judiciary branch roles?
Instead of rejecting the impeachment bill, the Constitutional Court helped the National Assembly Judiciary Committee rewrite it. On December 22, 2016, the Constitutional Court Judge Gang Il-Won advised the National Assembly Impeachment Committee to rewrite the impeachment resolution by organizing the 12 impeachment articles to 5 broader categories, and even spelled out the 5 articles for the Committee, and later, received from the Committee a different version of the resolution from the version that had been voted upon.
On Jan. 5, 2017, Judge Gang again advised the National Assembly Impeachment Committee to delete the 5th article of impeachment, “violating various criminal laws, including receiving bribery.” As stated earlier, the constitution does not allow a president to be subject to criminal prosecution while in office, unless the charges are for insurrection and treason.
Thus, on Feb. 1, 2017, the National Assembly Impeachment Committee submitted a separate document called “Embodiment of Type of Reasons for Impeachment.” Additional reasons for impeachment were added later. Thus the impeachment resolution was no longer the one that was voted on by the National Assembly, but a different document produced as a result of collaboration between the legislative branch and the judiciary branch. The Constitutional Court ruled on the impeachment based on the Embodiment of Type of Reasons for Impeachment document, and not on the original Impeachment bill, which contains more articles that were not impeachable under the constitution, and did not contain some of the new items inserted in the Embodiment document. The fundamentally revised Embodiment document had never been voted upon by the National Assembly.
This ad-hoc process, no hearing, no direct investigations, no evidence, and the fact that the Constitutional Court voted 8-0 under such dubious circumstances is the abandonment of rule of law by the very people entrusted with the special responsibility to uphold and protect it, and a great crime against the citizens of the Republic of Korea. If the law can be upended at will over the passions of the people, then it can be said that there is no law at all, and South Korea has devolved into mob rule.
There have been serious violations of human rights under the Moon Jae-In administration. South Korea is a member of the United Nations. One of the most fundamental documents adopted by the UN is the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Under the UDHR:
• Article 7: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
• Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
• Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
• Article 11, (1): Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
The South Korean Constitution also has similar clauses. For instance, Section 11 of the South Korean Constitution states that all citizens are equal before the law.
Those who call for Park Geun-Hye’s release are not only stating that she is innocent, but are also calling for restoring the gravely damaged rule of law in the Republic of Korea. All citizens should be equal before the law, not above or below, depending on their political affiliation.
All of these facts certainly cause people to question not only whether the impeachment was legitimate, but whether rule of law, an important component of liberal democracy, exists in South Korea. Again, the journalists at JTBC and other mass media have a crucial role, in fact, a responsibility, in reporting facts and informing the public, and helping to rebuild rule of law and improve human rights in South Korea.