[KS] Statement from Scholars in North America Concerned about Korean Democracy

Eugene Y. Park eugene.y.park at uci.edu
Mon Jun 8 11:34:35 EDT 2009

Dear all,

A group of scholars concerned about the present political situation in
Korea have drafted a joint statement for Korean democracy. The statement
is pasted in and attached to this email. If you'd like to express your
endorsement of the statement, please send your name and institutional
affiliation to Korea.Democracy at gmail.com.

Please disseminate this statement to whoever might be sharing similar
concerns about Korean democracy.

A compiled list of signatures and the joist statement will be sent to
major Korean presses hopefully before June 10.

If you find this collective effort to be out of your interest or
disagreeable, please discard this email.

With deepest appreciation for your attention and participation.

On behalf of scholars in North America concerned about Korean democracy,


Eugene (Gene) Y. Park
Associate Professor
Department of History
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697 USA

Statement from Scholars in North America Concerned about Korean Democracy

10 June 2009

The following represents the considered view of professors and researchers
at colleges and universities throughout North America whose thoughts are
always with Korea and Korea's democracy. In light of recent developments
in South Korea, we, the undersigned, cannot but express grave concern.
Nurtured by the toils and sacrifice of many, Korea's democracy is a proud
asset of the Korean people. The world has watched as the Korean people
have moved deliberately, with great determination and at great human cost,
from dictatorship toward democracy, over the last six decades.
Regrettably, since the inauguration of the President Lee Myung-bak
administration, Korean democracy has lost its way.

A democracy must guarantee the freedoms of assembly and association, not
only allowing the people to select their own representative through votes
but also in order that they may express diverse political opinions. We
have observed how the power of the state suppressed last year's
"candlelight vigils," has issued subpoenas even to ordinary citizens who
had participated in the protests, and is restricting the online exchange
of ideas. The recent police blockade of Seoul Square is another egregious
example of the government of President Lee Myung-bak denying the Korean
people the most basic of democratic rights, the freedom to assemble.

A democracy acquires a capacity for self-regulation through the free
press. We note with distress that the Public Prosecutor's Office has
questioned journalists critical of the government, and the replacement of
major broadcasting networks' executives with pro-government figures has
infringed upon the professional autonomy of rank-and-file reporters. A
foundation stone of a democracy, the free and independent press has
suffered serious damage.

The Constitution of the Republic of Korea enshrines a system of
checks-and-balances among the executive, the legislative, and the judicial
branches of the government. We regretfully recognize and call attention to
the fact that since its inauguration, the government has not upheld the
principle of checks-and-balances. Moreover, the principle of justice
through even and equal application of the law is under attack as can be
evidenced through the arbitrary actions of such state organs as the Public
Prosecutor's Office, the police, and the National Tax Service.

Speaking for North American scholars interested in the health and strength
of democracy in Korea, we express deep concern over the regression of
democracy in Korea. Heart-wrenching incidents such as the death of forced
evictees during the police's suppression of their protest, the suicide of
special contract workers, and the shocking decision by the former
president to end his own life are all tragic consequences of a democracy
that is taking backward steps in Korea; they highlight a democracy in

A democratically elected government cannot disparage its own people,
because the mandate to govern derives from the people. We, the
undersigned, urge the government of President Lee Myung-bak to recognize
its responsibility for the democracy that has regressed and reorient
itself as a government that respects the people's sovereignty and
democratic rights. The nation's pride, the Korean democracy must again
find its direction and return to the natural path of serving the people.

Jiyoung Ahn, PhD (NYU School of Medicine)
Don Baker (University of British Columbia)
Eun-Ok Baek (California State University, San Bernardino)
Tae-Ung Baik (University of British Columbia)
Wontae Cha (New York Theological Seminary)
John Chaffee (Binghamton University)
Dong-Ho Cho (Queens College, New York)
Jinbong Choi (Texas State University, San Marcos)
Jong Choi (California State University, Bakersfield)
Kyeong-Hee Choi (The University of Chicago)
Kyoung-Shin Choi (Purdue University)
Yoonsun Choi (University of Chicago)
Jennifer Jihye Chun (University of British Columbia)
Minsun Doh (Western Illinois University)
Alexis Dudden (University of Connecticut)
John B. Duncan (UCLA)
Henry Em (New York University)
Martin Hart-Landsberg (Lewis and Clark College)
Eunsook Hyun (University of Massachusetts Boston)
David E. James (University of Southern California)
Hyun-Joo Jeon (The University of Alabama)
Gyung-Ho Jeong (Claremont Graduate University)
Myungkook Joo (Rutgers University)
Heesam Kang (TUI University)
Nick Kaldis (Binghamton University)
Eyun-Jung Ki (University of Alabama)
ChangHwan Kim (University of Kansas)
Chigon Kim (Wright State University)
Dukhong Kim (Florida Atlantic University)
Hae-Young Kim (Duke University)
Heeman Kim (Kennesaw State University)
Hongkyung Kim (State University of New York at Stony Brook)
Jeounghee Kim (Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey)
Jon-Lark Kim (University of Louisville)
MinJeong Kim (University of Massachusetts Lowell)
Monica Kim (University of Michigan)
Suzy Kim (Boston College)
Wooksoo Kim (University at Buffalo, The State University of New York)
Young-Han Kim (University of California, San Diego)
Youngmi Kim (Jacksonville State University)
Mikyong Kim-Goh (California State University, Fullerton)
Hagen Koo (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Kyong-Ah Kwon (Georgia State University)
Cheol-Sung Lee (University of Chicago)
Ha Youn Lee (University of Rochester)
Jin-kyung Lee (University of California, San Diego)
Kyoung H. Lee (University of Texas, Pan-American)
Namhee Lee (UCLA)
Seoki Lee (Temple University)
Sunghee Lee (UCLA)
Yoonkyung Lee (State University of New York at Binghamton)
Young-Jin Lee (University of Kansas)
Young-Sun Lee (Columbia University)
Han Lheem (Fayetteville State University)
Chaeyoon Lim (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Churlzu Lim (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)
Tongwhan Moon (Hanshin University)
Taehyun Nam (Salisbury University)
Yunju Nam (Washington University in Saint Louis).
Kyoungrae Oh (University of Dayton)
Ravi Palat (Binghamton University)
Eugene Y. Park (University of California, Irvine)
Hyunjoon Park (University of Pennsylvania)
Jong Hee Park (The University of Chicago)
Sung Bae Park (SUNY Stony Brook)
So Yeon Park (University of Kansas)
Youngrak Park (Columbus State University)
Michael J. Pettid (Binghamton University, SUNY)
Mooweon Rhee (University of Hawaii)
Mahua Sarkar (Binghamton University)
Jungmin Seo (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Heeju Shin (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Soohyun P. Son (Mt. San Jacinto College)
Jae-Jung Suh (Johns Hopkins University)
Hyeyoung Woo (Portland State University)
Theodore Yoo (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
Myung-Keun Yoon (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology)
So-Yeon Yoon (University of Missouri-Columbia)
Jong Soue You (Algoma University, Canada)
Jong-sung You (University of California, San Diego)
ManSoo Yu (University of Missouri, Columbia)

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