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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on April 13)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:07 April 13, 2022

Shame on our lawmakers

Our lawmakers reacted shamefully to the speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the National Assembly on Monday. Only 60 out of the 300 legislators were present at the time. Some of them talked on their smart phones, and some were indifferent to the virtual address. After the speech, many were not impressed, in sharp contrast to their U.S., European and Japanese counterparts who filled their legislature entirely and gave standing ovations to the Ukrainian president.

The legislative branch is crucial for diplomacy with the executive branch. The executive makes policy decisions and implements them, but it is up to the legislative branch to determine the direction of diplomacy.

It was the U.S. House Resolution 121 proposed by Rep. Mike Honda in 2007 that draw global attention to the Japanese Army's sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II.

Our National Assembly has a long way to go. Despite a brief hiatus amid the pandemic, our lawmakers were infamous for making excessive demands for their trips overseas and off-the-track behavior in foreign countries. In 2019, 23 lawmakers were accused of violating the law after making overseas trips with money from government ministries. But none of the lawmakers have been punished.

It could be hard for the National Assembly to accept Zelensky's request for weapons to help him fight against Russia. Instead, our lawmakers can consider the idea of helping Ukraine through international organizations or expanding aid for non-combat areas. But that should be preceded by a sincere effort to empathize with the Ukrainians and denounce the aggression by Russia. But the lawmakers did not show any concern about Ukraine or demonstrate respect for a head of state doing his best to protect the people.

In the 20th century, Korea suffered aggression from the West and the Korean War. It is certainly in a position to condemn war waged by an imperialistic leader more than any other countries. Filling the chambers and giving standing ovations means the principle of free democracy is functioning well. Some countries proved the quintessential values of democracy and self-determination through such actions.

Where were the Democratic Party lawmakers who had been united when they pushed for a controversial bill aimed at establishing a new investigation authority to weaken the prosecution's power to investigate? Where were the lawmakers from the People Power Party after so ardently championing free democracy? During the Ukrainian president's speech for 17 minutes, Korea lost much.
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