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Posted : 2011-12-20 17:23
Updated : 2011-12-20 17:23

Civic groups split on condolences


Members of conservative civic groups chant slogans to oppose offering condolences on the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a rally in front of the Government Complex in central Seoul, Tuesday. / Yonhap

By Kim Rahn

Civic groups and bloggers are divided over whether to offer condolences on the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

Liberal groups claim it is necessary to express sympathy for humanitarian reasons, with some already announcing their own messages of condolences, while conservative groups claim it is nonsense to sympathize with the death of a dictator who killed thousands of his people.

As the government tendered sympathy to the North Korean people Tuesday, progressive groups generally welcomed the move.

Peace Network said in a statement; “Controlling the situation on the Korean Peninsula stably and ensuring peace will benefit all countries including the two Koreas and the United States.”

The nation’s two umbrella labor unions, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, sent telegrams of condolence to their North Korean counterpart.

But some called for more active moves, urging the government send a delegation to Pyongyang.

The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy said, “There’s no reason not to send a delegation under reciprocity. Sending a delegation is only a custom and not doing it is a bad decision, so we ask the government to rethink it.”

Conservative groups, however, not only oppose sending condolences but also welcomed Kim’s death.

Some 150 members of six conservative civic groups said in a press briefing that Dec. 19 will be the first day of a new Korea.

“As human beings, we may have to express sympathy over a person’s death. But we won’t. How many people have to die in pain because of Kim Jong-il? During the time of the Arduous March, millions of North Korean people died. As a leader of a state, he committed countless crimes against the North, the South and the world,” they said in a statement.

“South Korea’s No. 1 enemy is dead, and it is absurd that the government expresses sympathy. If anybody wanting to visit the North to offer condolence, we’ll fight to stop them,” they said.

Another group, Right Korea, said, “The death of dictator Kim, who suppressed his people and starved millions of them to death, is nothing to be mourned. Most South Koreans welcome his death, regarding it as a signal for North Korea’s democratization.”

It added North Korean delegation came to pay condolences when former President Kim Dae-jung died only because he carried out pro-North Korea policies.

North Korean defectors’ groups also opposed sending condolences. “The era of dictator Kim Jong-il, who enjoyed omnipotent power for 17 years and gave pain to people, is over. We believe his death will be a momentum for North Korean people to entertain freedom,” they said in a statement.

Bloggers and tweeters also presented different opinions about condolences according to their political inclinations.

Roh Hoe-chan, a spokesman of the main opposition Democratic Unity Party, said on his Twitter account, “I offer my condolences. I hope the spirit of peacemaking and exchanges between the two Koreas will continue.”

Culture critic Chin Jung-kwon said on his Twitter, “It is waste of time to dispute about condolences. Politically, we can criticize a dictator, but diplomatically, we can make a gesture of friendship to such a person.”

But conservative critic Cho Gab-je said, “The government should not tender condolences. It is a lasting regret that we ourselves couldn’t get rid of the slaughterer.”

A Twitter user said, “How come we mourn the death of an incompetent dictator who starved millions of his people to death?” But another tweeter said, “A leader of a state died. Regardless of political ideology, it may be sensible to offer condolences.”

관련 한글 기사

조의 표명 둘러싸고 시민단체들 갑론을박

김정일 북한 국방위원장에게 조의를 표해야 하는가를 두고 시민단체들과 네티즌들의 설전이 벌어지고 있다.

진보단체들은 인도적인 차원에서 조의를 표해야 한다는 반면, 보수단체들은 수천명의 주민을 죽인 독재자를 애도할 필요가 없다는 입장을 취하고 있는 것이다.

평화네트워크는 성명서를 통해 “한반도의 정세를 안정적으로 관리하고 평화를 유지하는 것은 남북한과 미국을 포함한 모든 나라의 이익에 부합하는 것”이라고 말했다.

민주노총과 한국노총은 조선직업총동맹 앞으로 조전을 보냈다.

그러나 몇 몇 단체들은 정부가 조문단을 보내야 한다고 주장했다.

참여연대는 "정부 조문단 파견은 상호주의의 맥락에서 하지 않을 이유가 없다. 상례에 지나지 않는 조문단을 파견하지 않기로 한 것은 매우 불행한 일인 만큼 재고를 요청한다"고 말했다.

반면 보수단체들은 조의 표시에 반대할 뿐 아니라 김위원장의 사망을 환영했다.

6개 보수단체 회원 150여명은 기자회견을 열고 김위원장의 사망일이 새로운 한국의 시작일이 될 것이라고 말했다. 이들은 성명서에서 “한 인간의 죽음에 애도를 표하는 것이 사람의 도리지만 오늘 우리는 김정일의 죽음에 애도를 표할 수 없다. 김정일 때문에 얼마나 많은 사람들이 고통에 죽어갔는가? 고난의 행군 시절 수백만의 북한 주민이 굶어 죽었다. 한 나라의 지도자로서 김정일은 북한과 남한 그리고 전세계에 셀 수 없는 범죄를 저질렀다”고 주장했다.

이들은 또한 "대한민국의 주적이 죽었는데 정부가 조의를 표명하고 조문을 허용한다는 것은 말이 안 된다. 방북 조문을 하려는 이가 있다면 끝까지 싸워서 막을 것"이라고 밝혔다.

라이트 코리아도 “국민을 탄압하고 수백만을 굶어죽게 한 독재자의 죽음은 애도할 일이 아니다. 대부분의 국민은 김정일의 죽음을 북한 민주화의 신호탄으로 보고 있다”고 말했다. 이들은 또 김대중 전 대통령의 서거 때 북한에서 조문단을 보낸 것은 김대통령이 충실한 종북 정책을 펼쳤기 때문이라고 주장했다.



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