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Defector Thae Yong-ho: Seoul's parliament 'capitulating' to North Korea

Thae Yong-ho, a lawmaker at Seoul's National Assembly, said Seoul's politicians are following North Korean demands during the passage of a controversial bill Monday. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun
Thae Yong-ho, a lawmaker at Seoul's National Assembly, said Seoul's politicians are following North Korean demands during the passage of a controversial bill Monday. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun

Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A high-profile North Korean defector serving in the South's parliament condemned a controversial bill banning anti-Pyongyang leaflets, which passed at Seoul's National Assembly Monday.

Thae Yong-ho, a former senior diplomat at Pyongyang's Embassy in London, said Thursday during a 10-hour filibuster the law banning activists from launching anti-North Korean flyers is capitulation to Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of leader Kim Jong-un, Donga Ilbo reported Monday.

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"If Kim Yo-jong did not propose such a law be made, would they have made such a law," Thae said, referring to South Korea's ruling party. "It is a pity the National Assembly follows the instruction of Kim Yo-jong."

In June, Kim had issued a statement condemning defectors, describing the group of North Koreans in the South campaigning against the North as "human scum."

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South Korean opposition politicians also attempted to block a bill that would transfer investigation powers of the National Intelligence Service to Seoul's National Police Agency. The bill passed with support from Democratic Party lawmakers, who form a majority in parliament.

Critics of the law say the ruling party's decision reflects lack of preparation because the police is not ready to take on probes into anti-state espionage.

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Spy agency reform has "been discussed for a long time among ruling party constituents, but unexpected results can occur, such as those we witnessed in real estate policy," said Cho Jin-man, a professor of political science at Duksung Women's University. Housing prices have skyrocketed in the South despite tax hikes this year.

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The bill and police reform means turning the NPA into an agency similar to the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to JoongAng Daily.

Seoul's spy agency is to also disclose more than 640,000 documents related to the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster to the Special Investigation Committee on Social Affairs, Hankyoreh reported Monday.

Not all Sewol documents are to be available, and restrictions will remain if there are domestic security concerns, according to the report.

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