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Conservative gov't of ex-leader Lee mulled ways to ease conditions for martial law: report

All News 11:17 July 11, 2018

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- The conservative administration of former President Lee Myung-bak sought to ease the conditions under which the government could impose martial law, a report released by a ruling party lawmaker said Wednesday.

In December 2011, Seoul's defense ministry asked the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the interior ministry to review ways to flexibly adjust the conditions under which martial law may be imposed, according to Rep. Kim Byung-kee of the Democratic Party (DP).

Martial law can be imposed when war is imminent, but the ministry proposed allowing for its application in lower-risk situations, including the occurrence of severe social unrest, the report showed.

"(There is a need) to review adjusting when martial law can be declared in order to stabilize social disorder in national emergencies," the defense ministry said in a document sent to the presidential office and the interior ministry.

At that time, unionized workers held rallies to protest layoffs by Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction, just about one year before the presidential election.

The report was disclosed as the military intelligence unit may have proposed an armed crackdown on civilians' candlelight vigils last year.

President Moon Jae-in has ordered the launch of an independent probe into allegations that the Defense Security Command (DSC) proposed declaring martial law in the midst of the vigils that helped lead to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye over corruption charges.

Last week, a civic group disclosed a DSC document drawn up in March last year that outlined ways to impose wartime martial law in case the Constitutional Court rejected the National Assembly's impeachment of Park and kept her in office.

The latest revelation adds to the possibility that conservative governments, in power from February 2008 until May 2017, might have continued to study ways mobilize troops in case of emergency situations.


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