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  • » 11/29/2013, 00.00


    Protestants raise the stake by calling on Park to resign

    Joseph Yun Li-sun

    A committee representing Protestant Churches opposed to interference by the secret services criticises the government for its attacks against a Catholic priest, Fr Park Chang-shin, calling on the president to take a step back before it is too late.

    Seoul (AsiaNews) - In a public statement, South Korea's Protestant Churches have called on South Korean President Park Geun-hye to step back and resign so that violations by the National Intelligence Service in the last presidential election can be vetted. In doing this, they join the country's Catholics and Buddhists who are united against government interference in the country's public life.

    South Korea's National Intelligence Service has been accused of tampering with this year's presidential election. The country's main religions have joined a pro-democracy campaign launched a few months ago by South Korean Catholics, calling on the government to uphold "truth and justice".

    South Korean leaders lashed out at Fr Park Chang-shin, accusing of being an "enemy of the nation". Eventually, an investigation was launched against him on "various criminal charges."

    For Seoul Archbishop Mgr Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Catholics "must be involved in politics" but he urged priests and consecrated people to act "upon careful consideration," without direct involvement.

    In recent days, the situation has become more tense. A bomb scare forced the archdiocese to close Myeongdong Cathedral a few days ago, then a group of protesters stormed the site, prompting police to deploy agents to "protect" it.

    Two days ago, Seoul saw about a thousand Buddhist monks take to the streets to protest, with police detaining two of them.

    Yesterday, South Korea's Protestant Churches added their voice with a statement issued by the Christian Joint Measures Committee for the National Intelligence Service's Election Interference.

    "Instead of revealing the truth about state institutions' interference in the presidential election and prosecuting those responsible, the current administration [has] tried to cover it up by forcing out the prosecutor-general and the prosecutors involved in the investigation, and by repressing critics by accusing them of being pro-North Korea," read the communiqué, adding that "Behavior of this sort is reminiscent of the government repression during the Yushin dictatorship 30 years ago".

    The Yushin dictatorship refers to the period when South Korea was ruled with an iron fist by President Park Geun-hye's father, Park Chung-hee.

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    See also

    28/11/2013 SOUTH KOREA
    Seoul: Buddhists, Protestants and Catholics united against the Park government
    A thousand Buddhist monks took to the streets to denounce intelligence agency interference and criticise the president for her "inability to communicate with the public." On 16 December, a group of Protestant clergymen will begin ten days of prayer and hunger strike against the government. Tensions with the ruling party continue, as it attacks the Church in right-wing newspapers.

    05/10/2010 SOUTH KOREA
    Three days of interfaith prayers against the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project
    Catholics, Protestants, mainstream Buddhists and members of the Buddhist Jogye Order are against the plan, which could put at risk the country’s environmental stability and destroy communities living along the affected rivers. They also plan to boycott all businesses that back the project, which the authorities are trying hard to sell.

    08/08/2017 12:54:00 SOUTH KOREA
    Korean religions call for a true peace treaty between North and South

    An interfaith ceremony held in Seongju marked the 64th anniversary of the end of the war and the proclamation of the truce, which is still in force. The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea reiterates the Church's opposition to THAAD.

    25/09/2013 SOUTH KOREA
    Korean Church back in the streets against corrupt intelligence service
    At least 5,000 priests, nuns and lay people take part in fresh demonstrations against NIS interference. Several official Church organisations join citizens in the fight for freedom and rights. The intelligence agency is a "dangerous organisation" and a "threat to democracy".

    17/09/2013 SOUTH KOREA
    As scandal hits corrupt intelligence service, the spectre of dictatorship looms over S Korea again
    The Catholic Church, along with Protestants and Wŏn Buddhists, continues its public protest against the secret services accused of manipulation in the last presidential election and keeping the country under constant surveillance. Catholic source tells AsiaNews, "We must listen carefully to the words Pope Francis spoke yesterday." Catholics must "not lose interest in public affairs", and should "react to such intolerable acts" with every means at their disposal.

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