A group of opposition lawmakers left for Washington, D.C., Monday to stage a campaign against the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement which awaits ratification by the two countries’ legislatures. They are accompanied by some members of the radical Minjunochong (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions), a farmers’ association and a few other civic groups on the trip.
These politicians include Rep. Chun Jung-bae of the Democratic Party who recently earned notoriety with his “kill the Lee Myung-bak administration” remarks and Rep. Kang Ki-gap of the Democratic Labor Party who is appealing to the Supreme Court over his conviction of engaging in acts of violence in the National Assembly with a fine of 3 million won. We regret that they are giving a rest to their opposition activities at home and are taking the trouble of talking to U.S. lawmakers and interest groups to dubious effect.
An FTA is not a zero-sum thing but is aiming at promoting trade between the countries involved, thereby boosting production and creating jobs. Yet, some specific clauses can seem more favorable to one side and other clauses more beneficial to the other. In one economy, certain sectors could suffer while others can expect growth. This anti-KORUS FTA mission is dishonest when it claims that the bi-national pact will have only a “negative impact” on the peoples of the two countries.
In a press conference at the National Assembly prior to their departure, the group said they would inform U.S. Congress, civil society and labor unions of the critical opinions in Korea against the FTA. Their itinerary includes a meeting with Korean correspondents based in the U.S. capital, apparently seeking to relay their activities to their home constituents.
The visitors plan to talk to the U.S. House trade working group and other lawmakers. But we seriously wonder how they can persuade Congress members about the supposedly bad consequences of the trade pact to U.S. industries and voters. Would they correctly convey the complaints of Korean auto workers and cattle raisers who are among the strongest opponents of the KORUS FTA here, just to win more support for the pact over there?
We would advise the group to return home immediately. If they conscientiously oppose the FTA, they should concentrate their political energy on sincere domestic activities. Their trip to Washington means they have given up hope in their own National Assembly.