Since 2001, authoritarians in the South Korean government have been attempting to pass mass surveillance legislation, and they have seized upon the latest North Korean saber-rattling as the perfect excuse for ramming it through the SK Parliament.
Members of the opposition Minjoo Party have vowed to block the legislation by staging the first Korean parliamentary filibuster in more than 45 years. To succeed, they will have to keep their filibuster running until March 11, speaking without pause, in relays.
As I type these words, a member of parliament called Seo Ki-Ho is reading aloud from the Korean editon of my Little Brother, my 2008 YA novel about children who organize resistance to surveillance in San Francisco after a terrorist attack. The translation was published in 2015, with a special introduction I wrote about Korea’s surveillance culture.
The Korean national intelligence service was embroiled in a scandal in 2014 when it was revealed that the director of national intelligence had flooded online message boards with fake comments lauding president Park Geun-hye, who was running for re-election; and libelling the left-wing candidate, Moon Jae-in, as a “North Korea-loving stooge.” The chief spy was sentenced to three years in prison. Park won the election.
The filibuster began Tuesday evening, led off by five hours and 23 minutes of remarks by the Minjoo Party’s Kim Gwang-jin. Eun followed Kim with 10 hours and 18 minutes at the podium, setting the record for longest ever address in South Korean parliament. But she fell short of the mark set by Strom Thurmond, who carried out the longest ever filibuster by a U.S. senator, speaking nonstop for over 24 hours in an effort to filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Eun’s only display of emotion was when she choked up talking about South Korean democracy icon and former President Kim Dae-jung, who as a young lawmaker in 1964 gave a speech in parliament that lasted more than five hours in an effort to block parliamentary approval of a fellow legislator’s arrest.
— 머리에 꽃 꽂은♬ 원더우먼 (@artemizhb) February 26, 2016
you know, what is happening in South Korea now?
(fillibuster to block anti-terrorism bill) pic.twitter.com/JP2zuyI5Wo
— 하태주 (@Hatezu) February 26, 2016
South Korean lawmakers try first filibuster since 1969 to block anti-terrorism bill [Steven Borowiec/LA Times]