NGOs Lash out at SK Lawmaker on Leaflet Campaigns

With Pyongyang taking a more aggressive
stance against an anti-North Korea propaganda leaflet campaign led by civic
groups in the South, the issue has also become a topic of heated discussion at
Seoul
s parliamentary inspection of government offices.

However, with some lawmakers issuing press
releases containing inaccurate information about particular NGOs that focus on
North Korean issues, it has generated strong backlash from the community. It
has been labeled an act tantamount to undermining the reputation of the civic
groups involved.

Opposition lawmaker Min Byung Doo from The
New Politics Alliance for Democracy, who sits on the National Policy Committee
in parliament, cited data on the
current status of
civic subsidies
submitted to him by the Office for
Government Policy Coordination on Friday. He claimed,
Over
the course of two years, from last year up until this year, four civic groups
involved in the propaganda leaflet campaign have received a total of 200
million KRW [190,000 USD] from the Prime Minister
s
Office.

Included in the figures from documents
released by Rep. Min, in 2013 the Prime Minister
s
Office has provided the group Love Republic of Korea with 30 million KRW, while
handing out 40 million KRW to Network for North Korean Democracy and Human
Rights [NKnet] and Union for North Korea Freedom, respectively.  

These groups are part of the Coalition for
Democracy in North Korea and Alliance for Leaflets to North Korea that are
mainly behind sending the leaflets,
the lawmaker asserted.

Unlike his claims, NKnet and Union for
North Korea Freedom said they have received funds from the Prime Minister
s Office, but they are unrelated to the leaflet campaign. The
organizations also have no ties to the two umbrella groups noted by lawmaker
Min.

NKnet received money from the Prime
Minister
s Office for international conferences on the
topics of North Korean human rights and unification. Union for North Korea
Freedom received funds for a public contest related to a theater production. The two
groups launched strong complaints against Rep. Min for releasing information
that proves to be factually incorrect.

Choi Yong Sang, NKnet Director, told the Daily NK, Lawmaker Min has issued
misleading information to make it look as if we [NKnet] received funds for the
leaflet campaign.
He added, Its something he could have just verified by making one simple phone
call. I don
t if I should call that being lousy or
lazy.

The director said he called Mins office asking him to correct himself and clarify that NKnet has
nothing to do with the two alliances. However, Choi said he was met with the
response,
If you havent sent
leaflets, show us the evidence.

Union for North Korea Freedoms Director, Kim Min Su, also uploaded a post on social media
arguing against Min
s claims. Union
for North Korea Freedom has carried out projects with the aid of the Prime
Minister
s Office this year,
it read,
but we have never sent leaflets and have no
intention of doing so.

In reference to the slogan on Rep. Mins official website, Politics is for a
Decent Person to Undertake,
Kim said, I dont know how he came to his conclusion
[on the issue of leaflets], but it seems to indicate that either he is not a
decent person, or he is incompetent.

For them, during the parliamentary
hearings, all they need to do is try to find fault with whatever insignificant
issue they can, but for NGO activists like us who work together based on shared
beliefs, it
s the worst act of arrogance, both
physically and emotionally that I don
t think he even
realizes,
the director added.

In response to this, an aide at Rep. Mins office told the Daily NK, It was simply
to raise questions about the groups that had received aid from the Prime
Minister
s Office and have them reviewed, knowing the
groups behind the leaflet campaign had received funds from that office.

When asked why they did not verify the
information with the groups involved, the aide responded,
We put together the documents based on information reported by
credible media outlets, which is why there is no problem.
This confirms the lawmakers office issued
the data based on other media reports without checking with the named
organizations.

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