On September 21, South Korea’s Congress approved the detention of Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the largest opposition Democratic Party, raising concerns about the country’s political situation. The court will review the need to arrest Lee Jae-myung based on charges of dereliction of duty, accepting bribes, and encouraging perjury. Some Korean media view this as a form of “political manipulation”. Lee Jae-myung, who has been on a hunger strike since August 31, has refused to evade prosecutors’ investigations. However, South Korean President Yoon Seok-yue approved the detention request the following day, indicating that the government is committed to pursuing the case. The arrest of Lee Jae-myung had to be approved by a full session of the National Assembly, which occurred on September 21, with 149 votes in favor, 136 votes against, 6 abstentions, and 4 invalid votes. The approval resulted in protests and attempts to break into the National Assembly building. Lee Jae-myung issued a statement calling for solidarity within the Democratic Party of Korea to resist what he perceives as the dictatorship of the prosecution agency. The conflict between South Korea’s government and the opposition has escalated, and the political situation is becoming increasingly tense. The outcome of the court’s review of the detention will determine Lee Jae-myung’s future trajectory in politics.
Author Liu Xu Wan Jiaxin
According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s Congress voted on the 21st to approve the detention of Lee Jae-myung, leader of the largest opposition Democratic Party, and the court will then review the need to arrest Lee Jae-myung. Some Korean media are worried that Korean politics is “moving toward troubled waters.”
Lee Jae-myung detention permit case passed by Congress
On the morning of the 18th of this month, the Anti-Corruption Investigations Department of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office filed a complaint with the court on charges of violating the “Small Penalty Law for Specific Economic Crimes”, the “Penalty Law Serious for Specified Crimes”, and the “Foreign Exchange Transactions Act”, including dereliction of duty, accepting bribes, and encouraging others to commit perjury. The arrest of Li Zaiming was approved.
South Korea’s “Gyeonghyang Shimbun” reported on the 18th that Park Kwang-yu, representative of the Democratic Party of Korea in the National Assembly, said that Lee Jae-myung has repeatedly stated that he will never evade the prosecutors’ investigations, but he the prosecutors insist on making a request to arrest Lee Jae-myung at this time. This is a case. A form of “political manipulation”.
Yin Xiyue’s government attitude is also very strict. Yonhap News Agency reported that Justice Minister Han Dongxun met with reporters immediately after the plenary meeting of the Legislative and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly on the 18th. He said: “I think we should not set a precedent that the judicial system will stop functioning just because the suspect defendant has gone on hunger strike.”
South Korean President Yoon Seok-yue, who was visiting the United States, approved the detention request for Lee Jae-myung the next day, which seemed to prove with facts that the government of Yoon Seok- yue le to concession on Lee Jae -myung in “must review for arrest.”
According to South Korea’s current laws, a motion to arrest a sitting member of Congress must be approved by a full session of the National Assembly to approve the detention, and then the court can conduct a necessary review to see if approval should be granted. the arrest before him. it can be implemented formally.
On the afternoon of the 21st, the South Korean Congress voted on this case. The vote that day was held in secret.Among the 298 serving members, except for Lee Jae-myung himself who was in hospital, the imprisoned independent member Yun Guanshi, and Foreign Minister Park Jin and accompanied President Yun Xiyue during his visit to the United States, the rest of the 298 members took part in the vote.
According to Korean media reports, in order for the detention consent bill to be passed by the National Assembly, it must meet the conditions of “more than half of the serving members attending the meeting and be approved by more than half of the participating members.” On the same day, the case was passed with 149 votes in favor, 136 votes against, 6 abstentions and 4 invalid votes.
As soon as the voting results were reported, a large number of Lee Jae-myung supporters gathered in front of the National Assembly and tried to break into the National Assembly. The police closed exits 1 and 6 of the National Assembly Station on Metro Line 9, and used police cars to set up a car wall in front of the parliament building to prevent demonstrations from breaking in and other emergencies. They also implemented traffic control on some roads around the parliament building, control.
On the 22nd, Lee Jae-myung issued a position statement through the Democratic Party of Korea, calling on the entire party to unite and jointly resist the deliberate actions and back-attack of the dictatorial regime of the Korean prosecution agency, and protect people’s livelihood and democracy. . Yonhap News Agency reported that this is the first time I have expressed my position after the South Korean Congress voted to approve the case of Lee Jae-myung’s detention.
The political prelude to the escalating conflict between South Korea and the opposition
As early as March 22 this year, the Anti-Corruption Investigations Department of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office in South Korea initiated an unreserved prosecution of Lee Jae-myung on suspicion of dereliction of duty. Prosecutors suspected Li Zaiming of colluding with private enterprises in order to fulfill his campaign promises and obtain political benefits.
However, Lee Jae-ming denied all suspicions in his written statement. He also strongly expressed that he felt that the prosecutors were not handling the case but “playing politics.” The prosecutors were not investigating to discover the truth, but were falsifying the facts for prosecution purposes.
Then on August 31, Li Zaiming began setting up a tent in front of the Capitol and began a hunger strike. He made three demands, including asking the Yun Seok-yue government to clearly oppose the discharge of Japan’s nuclear-polluted water into the sea, to apologize for the government’s actions that undermine people’s livelihoods and democracy, and to reshuffle the cabinet in comprehensive.
As Li Zaiming’s hunger strike extended, his physical condition deteriorated and he became so weak that it was difficult to even speak. In response, party members visited him one after another, and celebrities from all walks of life also advised him to put his health first. The Democratic Party of Korea held a parliamentary meeting on the 16th to try to end the hunger strike. , but Lee Jae -myung remained unmoved.
Until September 18, Li Zaiming fell into a coma on the 19th day of the hunger strike and was sent to the hospital for treatment. On the same day, South Korean prosecutors applied for the arrest of Lee Jae-myung on suspicion of dereliction of duty and other crimes. This incident quickly escalated, intensifying the already strained relationship between the government and the opposition. The tough approach of the Yin Xiyue government has aroused strong dissatisfaction among the people and the opposition parties. Several members of the opposition parties went to the presidential palace to protest the prosecutor’s “unfair investigation” and called on the cabinet to resign en masse. Some Korean media worriedly said that Korean politics is “heading for troubled waters.”
The political situation in South Korea is becoming increasingly tense
Currently, the battle between South Korean political parties is entering a fierce phase. The detention permit case against Lee Jae-myung will enter the court’s review of the need to arrest.
“The Dong-A Ilbo” analyzed that if the detention permit case is subsequently rejected, then the “anonymous political investigation” will allow Lee Jae-myung and his Democratic Party to regain support, and at the same time , the motivation of the investigation of the prosecution office. inevitably decreases. Lee Jae-myung will have a chance to regain political leadership and take countermeasures. A heavyweight lawmaker predicted: “If the arrest warrant is dismissed, Rep. Lee Jae-myung will completely ‘fly’.” In other words, if the arrest warrant is rejected, Lee Jae-myung will be very aggressive against the prosecutors and those who push himself to be reviewed for the arrest warrant. Pro-Ming squad members held “counter-attacks and sewage cleaning.”
However, some people believe that the passage of the detention permit bill in the National Assembly will have a great impact on Lee Jae-myung, and it will be difficult for him to immediately restore his leadership abilities. Some media quoted the relevant people as saying: “Basically, when the detention authorization bill was passed, the congressmen not only ‘hated Lee Jae-myung’, but expressed doubts about Lee Jae-myung’s ability to lead himself . “
On the evening of the 21st, the leadership team of the Democratic Party of Korea decided to resign collectively to express their responsibility for approving Lee Jae-myung’s detention permit case by the National Assembly, and party members expressed their acceptance. However, the Hankyoreh Daily believes that even a mutual resignation will not help change the fact that Lee Jae-myung is about to be arrested.
According to a report by Yonhap News Agency on the 22nd, it will be decided whether Lee Jae-myung will be detained as soon as the 26th of this month. On the 22nd, the Seoul Central District Court set the date for questioning the suspect (arrest warrant review) before detaining Lee Jae-myung as 10 am on the 26th. If the arrest warrant review goes ahead as planned, Lee Jae-ming’s detention will likely be decided on the evening of the 26th or early morning on the 27th.
However, Li Zaiming has been on hunger strike for 23 days and is expected to remain bedridden, so it is uncertain whether he can attend the review. A detention order review usually requires the physical presence of the suspect. If Lee Jae-myung is willing to attend but requests an extension due to health reasons, the court may postpone the review after confirming the prosecutor’s opinion. However, if Lee Jae-ming skips attendance, according to past practice, the review can only be attended by lawyers or it can be changed to a written review. After the review is completed, the judge in charge of the arrest warrant will review the records and decide if Lee Jae-myung needs to be detained.
It is still about half a year before the Korean parliamentary elections in April 2024. The direction of the political struggle between the ruling and opposition parties in South Korea is still unclear. Under the evolving situation, various factors can affect future political dynamics. (over)