A recent drunken rant has stirred up controversy in South Korea and sparked debates questioning senior figures loyalty and their possible links to North Korea.
Lim Su Kyung, a member of the South Korean national assembly, allegedly berated a North Korean defector at a restaurant after he asked for a photo together. According to the victim, who uploaded his account onto facebook, she had been dining and drinking and upon finding out his identity as a North Korean defector denounced him as a "b*stard betrayer". This struck a nerve as although unsympathetic South Koreans are easy to find, hearing he had escaped the horrors of the north only to find a member of the government in his adopted nation launch a blistering attack on him and call him a traitor must have stung. The outburst came as a surprise to the rest of the South Korean public as Lim Su Kyung is known as the "flower of unification", a symbol who has campaigned for peaceful unification of the embittered nations. Lim was famous as a student who illegally entered North Korea and made her way to Pyongyang in order to attend the 1989 '13th World Festival of Youth and Students'. She was heralded in Pyongyang and on her return to Seoul was arrested for disobeying orders and crossing the border. To those who harbour desires for reunification she was a heroine, unfortunately she is now notorious for her rant.
Her rant has come at a time of a political witch-hunt for those who harbour pro-North Korean feelings. The ruling party & the main opposition party have joined together to expel two lawmakers from a minor left-wing political party. The accusations they faced were based around their links to North Korea and the possibilities they had passed on military intelligence to the Northern enemies. To those on the left and those who still hope for reunification this comes as a blow. Some claim that the atmosphere of neo-McCarthyism has been developed by the ruling party. Outgoing president Lee Myung-Bak has even bemoaned the lack of patriotism of some of his citizens in recent speeches. He has acknowledged how North Korean sympathisers are "problematic" and this has helped foster the idea that he is looking to strike at those who continue to have compassionate feelings towards North Korea.
Many young Koreans are dissatisfied with these recent predicaments. They have seen a ruling government impose crackdowns on their freedom of speech. There have been high profile arrests of Koreans who have criticised the president online and found themselves in the courtroom. It has never been an option to spout pro-North Korean comments publically but this new attack has reinvigorated thoughts on people's personal freedoms and their rights to their own beliefs.
North Korea recently chimed in with its own response to these recent crackdowns and has thrown another spanner in the works. They claim that the attacks on those who support their cause is entirely pointless as it's not just the left-leaning political groups that harbour these prohibited thoughts but even members of the ruling party themselves. They claim they can release documents showing all the compliments paid to them by high profile South Koreans. They declared:
"If we report all of what they told us during their visits, all South Koreans would be shocked".
This includes the future Presidential candidate, Park Guen-Hye. The ruling party's presidential candidate and the daughter of the most famous former South Korean president who visited the north on a non-political trip. She visited Pyongyang May 11th till the 14th in 2002 and it's been claimed that she paid compliments to Kim Jong-Il that would be a major embarrassment if released.
The issue is complicated and grabs headlines in the media and for this reason the major opposition party claim the whole issue is a case of smoke and mirrors. In an attempt to cover up the cracks of a disappointing term in office the ruling party is instigating these crackdowns and highlighting the threat from within to manipulate the headlines. These stories naturally are causing lots of attention and with elections upcoming a release of quotes from the future presidential candidate would cause a significant stir. It would be a major embarrassment for the ruling party if attempts to distract the public from their poor time in office only ended up blowing up in their faces and revealing details that would have benefited them to have remained hidden.