Sim Sang-jung vs. Lim Su-kyung
The Cheongsong Shim (my surname) family association invited me Monday, in my title as political editor of The Korea Times, to a meeting to celebrate those from the clan elected as lawmakers through the April general elections. They came from three parties with a diverse ideological spectrum ― the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, liberal main opposition Democratic United Party and progressive minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP).
Hailing from “yangban” (noble class) during the Joseon Kingdom, the Shim clan has tended to be conservative in nature. Many looked to a four-term legislator who is a current member of the Saenuri Party’s Supreme Council. Some even expect him to be the next speaker of the National Assembly.
The most popular figure, however, was Rep. Sim Sang-jung, who has been leading the UPP. A former chairman of the association even described her as the person at the front of “annihilating” the so-called “jongbuk” (pro-North Korea) elements. He said her activities are even more brilliant compared to the inability of both the Saenuri Party and DUP.
His statement might have caught those parties off guard as it could mean the head of the progressive party was taking the lead to destroy them on behalf of other forces. The situation reminds us of an old Korean saying that it is the falcon that catches the pheasant. Well acquainted with the pro-North Korean faction, she earlier revealed it has been controlled clandestinely apparently swayed by some underground power elite.
It was a sort of warning against the “jongbuk” members targeting Lee Suk-gi and Kim Jae-yeon who were elected lawmakers through the proportional representation system. They have become public enemies by brazenly resisting the mounting pressure for their resignation after vote-rigging in their selection to run in April’s National Assembly elections. The UPP disciplinary committee has decided to expel them for the fraudulent voting.
Amid turmoil triggered by the vote-rigging, progressive leaders, namely, Reps. Sim, Roh Hoe-chan and Ryu Shi-min seem to have become the biggest beneficiaries. In sharp contrast to Lee and Kim, Sim and Roh became lawmakers in a very proper manner in their own respective constituencies. Ryu also stole the limelight as he voluntarily gave up the position of legislator by holding himself responsible for the vote-fixing scandal.
The UPP made a leap forward as the third largest party by garnering 13 seats in the parliament. The victorious result has been mainly due to policies that appeal to the people in general, that feature, among others, fairness, economic and social justice, shared growth and a balanced approach toward North Korea.
Rep. Sim’s case compares to Rep. Lim Su-kyung of the opposition DUP who has come under growing criticism for her statement of attacking those who have defected from North Korea, even dubbing them “traitors.”
Her remarks provoked public wrath and apparently broke the hearts of the North Koreans who came here against all odds. Only sympathizing with the North Korean regime, she seems to have lost any affection for the North’s citizens, mostly suffering from famine and an iron-fisted rule.
The current dispute involving the pro-North Korean faction in our society is fortunate in the sense that it has uncovered the inconvenient truth hidden in our society, with a focus on the ugly aspect of the North Korea followers. From a more positive perspective, we may regard it as a process toward a more seasoned society. In this vein, we seem to have to appreciate North Korea sympathizers.
Rep. Sim seems confident enough to give us hope in the future saying, “Don’t worry too much. We are doing it to clear the way.” Despite the lingering crisis facing the UPP, we should not give up the spirit of progressiveness at all.