Lee Hae-chan (R), leader of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party, condemned politicians who "distort history," in reference to the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
May 20 (UPI) -- South Korea's ruling party is supporting new laws that could punish people for disseminating "fake news," according to multiple press reports.
South Korea's Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan said Wednesday a new law designed to verify the truths of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising should also consider bringing to justice people who have conflicting interpretations of the events of 40 years ago, when the South Korean military quelled a pro-democracy movement, Yonhap and News 1 reported Wednesday.
Lee, a former prime minister under progressive President Roh Moo-hyun, told politicians at a meeting of the Democratic Party Supreme Council he takes issue specifically with Jee Man-won, a far-right politician who has said the uprising of May 18, 1980 included the participation of North Korean military personnel.
Jee has been the target of lawsuits from activists, who allege he created falsified documents to connect the Gwangju Uprising with the North Korean regime in Pyongyang.
On Wednesday, Lee said Jee was promoting "fake news," and engaging in "unscrupulous acts aimed in advancing his self-interest."
"Only with the consensus of the [South Korean people] can the spread of fake news be stopped," Lee said.
"It is truly deplorable. To distort the history of the Gwangju Uprising is to also violate the spirit of the [South Korean] Constitution."
Park Kwang-on, a member of the DP Supreme Council, said the May 18 Special Law to "reveal the truth" must be passed, in order to lead the country down a path of reconciliation, News 1 reported.
Park also said it is necessary to investigate the facts, and "expand the authority" of inspectors.
"Tragic history repeats itself, unless people are duly punished for a systematic and widespread massacre of citizens."
Former President Chun Doo-hwan, who came to power after staging a military coup in 1979, has been blamed for ordering the crackdown against Gwangju protesters.
Chun is facing a libel lawsuit in connection to the events of Gwangju.