Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tsutomu Nishioka

【#593】Tense Political Situation in South Korea

Tsutomu Nishioka / 2019.05.21 (Tue)

May 20, 2019

     South Korean government of President Moon Jae In has been criticized as a dictatorship. Two years have passed since Moon’s inauguration, meaning that he finished 40% of his five-year term with no reelection allowed under the current constitution.
     Public broadcaster KBS aired a special interview program with Moon to mark the second anniversary of his presidency. At the interview, a woman reporter asked Moon how he thought about the largest opposition Liberty Korea Party’s description of him as a dictator.
     The reporter came under severe fire from the Moon supporters. Her family’s names and face photos have been published, forcing the reporter and the family members to worry about their safety.

Conservative opposition criticizes Moon as a dictator
     The Liberty Korea Party has held large-scale rallies throughout South Korea, calling for blocking the dictatorship. Following are excerpts from an address by the party’s leader Hwang Kyo Ahn at those rallies. After having served as justice minister and prime minister under the former government of President Park Geun Hye, the former elite public prosecutor Mr. Hwang entered politics last February to fight against the Moon government, gaining the highest popularity rating among potential candidates for the next president
     “We must terminate the leftist dictatorship of the Moon Jae In government now. The government first took control of the executive branch. The executive branch since then became different from that of a liberal democracy. It became an executive branch of the president and a group that holds effective control of politics. They have almost occupied the judicial branch as well. The chief and other justices of the Supreme Court belong to a specific group. The Moon government is trying even to take control of the legislative branch. Without any agreement with the largest opposition party, it is trying to revise the election law into a mixed-member proportional representation system (that would expand proportional representation and allow the ruling party to retain control of government almost permanently by forming a coalition with minor leftist parties) that would be absolutely favorable for the ruling party.
     “The Moon government is trying to establish a special unit to investigate alleged corruption by high-ranking public officials including prosecutors and judges. If prosecutors are about to investigate incidents involving alleged corruption by the president, his family, his aides and government/ruling party officials, the special unit may take over such investigations and arrest prosecutors and judges whose investigations or judgments are unfavorable for the ruling party. It would amount to a political police in a dictatorship.
     “The Liberty Korea Party will lead a mortal struggle. As we wage a bloody struggle, I want you citizens to rise up while being prepared to make sacrifices. Otherwise, your sons and daughters in the next generation would be forced to live under a leftist dictatorship.”

Approval rating gaps are narrowing between ruling and opposition parties
     A poll released by Real Meter on May 9 found that the Moon government’s approval rating stood at 47.3%, almost equal to the disapproval rating at 48.6%. The approval rating for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea came to 36.4% against 34.8% of the Liberty Korea Party. The gap was the narrowest since the inauguration of President Moon. Given that the ultra-leftist Justice Party’s rating stood at 8.3%, however, the conservatives are still a minority.
     Will South Korea become a country like Venezuela that has produced a leftist dictatorship through elections? Will a totalitarian force take control of the Korean Peninsula to create a nuclear-armed, anti-Japan unified Korea emerging in front of us? The Korea Liberty Party and other anti-communism liberal democratic forces are about to wage a mortal struggle to restore South Korea as a free, prosperous and democratic country. The situation remains tense and in the balance.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a senior fellow and a Planning Committee member at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and a visiting professor at Reitaku University. He covers South and North Koreas.