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Korean bishops release survey results before polls

Respondents include three of the four political parties and questions ranged from the death penalty to nuclear disarmament
South Korea's ruling People Power Party campaigners wave during a campaign ahead of the parliamentary elections in Seoul on March 28. The East Asian nation goes to polls on April 10.

South Korea's ruling People Power Party campaigners wave during a campaign ahead of the parliamentary elections in Seoul on March 28. The East Asian nation goes to polls on April 10. (Photo: AFP)

Published: April 01, 2024 11:55 AM GMT
Updated: April 01, 2024 12:10 PM GMT

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) has released the results of its survey ahead of the national assembly polls on April 10.

The survey, "22nd National Assembly Election Policy Questionnaire," included 43 questions covering eight areas which received responses from three of the four political parties to whom it was sent, CBCK said in a statement on March 28.

The bishops' conference secretariat said that it would send the survey results to the dioceses in the country.

Bishops can use the data to “verify the policies of parliamentary candidates running for office,” the statement said.

The survey questionnaire covered topics such as labor, national reconciliation, social welfare, bioethics, ecology and environment, women, justice and peace, and youth, among others.

Topics such as the abolition of the death penalty, issues related to nuclear disarmament, and the enactment of a special law on the Itaewon tragedy saw varied responses from the parties.

The Democratic Party of Korea (DP), the People Power Party (PPP), and Green Party Korea (GPK) responded to the survey, while the Reform Party abstained.

On the topic of the abolition of the death penalty in the country, the GPK said it “strongly agrees,” and the DPK said it “agrees” with the move.

Meanwhile, the PPP took a cautious stance saying that “a mature consensus of society is needed regarding the abolition of the death penalty.”

South Korea has not executed anyone since 1997 and therefore Amnesty International has demarcated it as “an abolitionist country in practice.”

The death penalty in South Korea continues to be the toughest sentence according to the country’s criminal justice system. At least nine people are on death row, all of them convicted of murder as of October 2023.

The parties also commented on the contentious issue of the Fukushima wastewater disposal by Japan.

The DP and the GPK said they “strongly agree” that the discharge of contaminated water from Fukushima must be stopped for the safety of domestic fishermen and food safety.

However, the PPP said they “cannot agree that the discharge should be stopped” because it is already being done.

"It is necessary to monitor the safe discharge [following] international standards and strengthen radiation safety inspections and verification of major waters and seafood," the PPP said in its response to the survey.

In August 2023, the Tokyo Electric Power Company released more than a million tons of treated radioactive water from the 2011 earthquake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean sparking concern in the region.

The parties also showed a difference of opinion in the reintroduction of the proposed Yellow Envelope Bill, which justifies strikes by subcontracted workers against their employers’ clients, even though the clients do not employ those workers directly.

In addition, management will be banned from demanding compensation for damage stemming from illegal strikes, unless they assess the damage caused by each individual.

The DP and the GPK said that they "strongly agreed" to the amendment of Articles 2 and 3 of the Labor Union Act, while the PPP said it "disagreed” with the move.

The DP and the GPK said they “strongly agree” and “agree” respectively on the enactment of the “Special Act on the Itaewon Tragedy.”

However, the PPP opted to “disagree,” with the move.

* This report is brought to you in partnership with the Catholic Times of Korea

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