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(LEAD) Parties exchange barbs over martial law documents

All Headlines 17:06 August 01, 2018

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SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- Rival parties on Wednesday exchanged barbs over a controversy surrounding the military intelligence unit's documents written last year to prepare for the imposition of martial law to curb anti-government protests.

The war of words further intensified after the floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) claimed Tuesday that the Defense Security Command (DSC) had also devised a similar plan in 2004, when former liberal President Roh Moo-hyun was impeached.

In March 2004, Roh was impeached by parliament on charges that included illegal electioneering, but he was reinstated by the top court about two months later.

The controversy was sparked as a civic group disclosed DSC documents last month that showed the unit had set up detailed plans for declaring martial law last year to curb civilians' candlelight protests against then corruption-ridden President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached by parliament.

The group also claimed Monday that the DSC allegedly wiretapped phone conversations between Roh and his defense minister more than a decade ago and carried out illegal surveillance on millions of civilians.

President Moon Jae-in earlier ordered an independent probe into the DSC.

The LKP raised doubts about how the Center for Military Human Rights Korea could secure such classified documents.

Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP, even said Tuesday that it is absurd that military reforms are being moved by a civic group, whose chief is struggling with his sexual identity.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) condemned Kim's remarks.

"The floor leader of the largest opposition party is misleading public sentiment. It is questionable that the LKP is trying to defend the DSC," said Baek Hye-ryun, a spokeswoman at the party.

The ruling party regarded DSC documents as evidence for a de facto coup. But the LKP, which was the ruling party under Park's government, claimed that they might have been just drawn up to prepare for emergency situations, not for rebellion.

"The DSC documents were kind of the risk management manual, not documents over an attempted rebellion or coup," said Kim Byong-joon, the LKP's interim leader.

Kim, the LKP's floor leader, told reporters that his party will file complaints with the prosecution over allegations that presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom and the civic group violated the law on protecting military secrets.

At a press briefing on July 20, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman unveiled DSC documents submitted by the defense ministry, which contained detailed plans, including one to control lawmakers to prevent parliament from lifting the martial law.

Lim Tae-hoon, the head of the civic group, served prison time for refusing mandatory military service as a "conscientious objector."

A local media outlet reported that Lim cited the military's unfair treatment of homosexuals as the reason for his refusal to serve.

(LEAD) Parties exchange barbs over martial law documents - 1

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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