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(LEAD) Parties file petition against lawmakers over 1980 democratic uprising

14:02 February 12, 2019

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and three smaller parties asked a parliamentary panel Tuesday to punish three lawmakers from the main opposition party over their controversial remarks on a 1980 pro-democracy uprising.

The four parties filed a petition against the lawmakers of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) with the parliamentary special committee on ethics over their comments that allegedly disparaged the democracy movement in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

The LKP faces a political storm after the lawmakers -- Kim Jin-tae, Lee Jong-myeong and Kim Soon-rye -- came under fire for holding a public forum last week, inviting a far-right figure who has long claimed that North Korean troops were involved in the pro-democracy uprising.

Two of them also made controversial remarks allegedly disparaging the democracy movement, with one claiming that a riot was turned into a pro-democracy movement by people with political purposes.

The ruling Democratic Party and three small parties file a petition against the lawmakers of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) with the parliamentary special committee on ethics on Feb. 12, 2019, over their comments that allegedly disparaged the democracy movement in the southwestern city of Gwangju. (Yonhap)

On May 18, 1980, the military conducted a bloody crackdown on demonstrators, including students, in Gwangju protesting against then President Chun Doo-hwan, who took power in a military coup a year earlier.

The tank-led quelling of the uprising left hundreds of people killed and thousands wounded.

The four parties said they will seek to strip the three lawmakers of their parliamentary seats, taking issue with their distortion of historic facts about the uprising.

The DP formed a joint front with the minor conservative Bareunmirae Party, the minor liberal Party for Democracy and Peace and the leftist Justice Party.

They also agreed to seek to co-write a proposal to revise a special law aimed at punishing those who distort, fabricate and disparage facts about the May 18 movement.

"(The LKP) should bear in mind that its ambiguous stance toward the uprising led to its lawmakers uttering absurd remarks that ignore the Constitution and the people," DP floor leader Hong Young-pyo said at a meeting with party officials.

"The party should take such actions as their expulsion," he said.

Baffled at the escalating political crisis, the LKP leadership has apologized to the public over the controversy.

LKP chairman Kim Byong-joon also asked the party's ethics committee to look into the case and decide if punishment is warranted.

"Our official stance on the May 18 uprising is that it was a pro-democracy movement that has hugely contributed to the enhancement of freedom and democracy of the Republic of Korea," he said.

In a related development, President Moon Jae-in on Monday rejected two LKP nominees as members of a new fact-finding team designed to verify suspicions that the then military government and its conservative predecessors may have covered up the truth about the bloody crackdown on the 1980 movement.

The LKP earlier named three nominees to the nine-member panel under a special law on the fact-finding mission.

The DP and the three parties welcomed Moon's decision, saying the two failed to meet legal requirements for the job.

(LEAD) Parties file petition against lawmakers over 1980 democratic uprising - 2

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
(END)

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