Leftist party set to shift stance on NK
By Kang Hyun-kyung
The leftist Unified Progressive Party (UPP), accused of having stayed silent on North Korea and the human rights of its citizens, showed signs of scrapping its decade-old stance on Pyongyang, Monday.
The shift comes as the UPP faces mounting criticism for allegedly having a pro-North Korea stance.
A task force within the party released a set of guidelines for policy directives on diverse issues, including North Korea. Among several issues, the minor party described the human rights situation there as “grave” according to universal standards.
Briefing on the key elements of the UPP tasks on behalf of the party, Rep. Park Won-suk said North Korea’s record on human rights cannot be justified at all, even when considering its dire economic situation.
“To improve the human rights condition there, inter-Korean peace and assistance to the residents are needed,” he said.
The lawmaker also said North Korea’s dynastic leadership succession over the three generations deserves criticism. But he remained skeptical about the hardline North Korea policy of the ruling Saenuri Party and the government. “The government needs to seek dialogue with the North to bring peace and unification. But what it does is attack it, which is not wise,” he said.
The task force also recommended the UPP tone down its radical ideology on North Korea. “Our party has maintained the posture that South Korea needs to end its alliance with the United States and the U.S. government should withdraw all its troops from the peninsula if North Korea achieves denuclearization,” Park said.
“Although the stance is not flawed as it addresses security concerns, our stance is often misconceived that we are calling for a termination of the Korea-U.S. alliance and for the U.S. government to pull back its forces. Because of the misinterpretation, we need to revisit our strategy.”
The UPP unveiled the shift in its policy after some of its members, including Rep. Lee Seok-ki, were accused of being North Korea sympathizers.
The party had remained silent over human rights in the North, failing to issue statements when China’s repatriation of refugees invited international criticism in February and March this year.
It didn’t comment on the dynastic leadership succession in the North either, after Kim Jong-un succeeded his late father Kim Jong-il who died of heart failure last December.
Conservative analysts allege that some UPP members are affiliated with the North’s Worker’s Party, which the party denies.