The Korean Cabinet passed an unprecedented petition calling for the disbanding of a minor leftist opposition party.
The petition to disband the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) was filed two months after some of its key members, including Rep. Lee Seok-ki, were arrested on charges of plotting to overthrow the government in the event of an inter-Korean war, and of praising the North Korean communist regime in violation of South Korean law.
On October 5, the Cabinet passed the proposal submitted by the Ministry of Justice, which will be presented to the Constitutional Court upon approval from President Park Geun-hye, who is on an official visit to Europe.
The South Korean Constitution stipulates that the government can ask the Constitutional Court to review the disbandment of a political party that violates the “democratic basic order.” When the court approves the disbandment, the National Election Commission will take steps to dismiss the party.
UPP spokesman Hong Sung-gyu denounced the Cabinet’s passage as “an act trampling on basic values of democracy,” saying, “President Park Geun-hye is leading a direct breach of and holds contempt for our Constitution.”
In a press briefing, Minister of Justice Hwang Kyo-ahn said, however, that his ministry counts the party’s aims and activities to be in violation of the democratic basic order stipulated by the Constitution. He went on to say, “We determined that the UPP’s platform and objectives aim for North Korean socialism, which goes against the free democratic basic order of our Constitution, and that the activities of the party’s core body Revolutionary Organization have been in line with North Korea’s strategy to revolutionize the South.”
The ruling Saenuri Party spokesman Yoo Il-ho supported the government decision by saying, “Now, we hope that the Constitutional Court will make a proper conclusion that the public can accept.”
The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) also called for a fair judgment. Spokesman Kim Kwan-young said, “It is very regrettable and unfortunate that such an unprecedented happening has taken place in our constitutional history,” adding, “We hope for a responsible and wise decision by Constitutional Court justices.”
The disbandment of UPP is subject to approval by at least six of the nine Constitutional Court justices.