02/26/2016 01:38 pm ET Updated Feb 27, 2017

I Sincerely Hope That I Represented The Korean People's Voice During My 10-Hour Filibuster


"As His Holiness the Pope said, and as the UN and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea mentioned, to prevent terrorism is not limited to penalizing and responding to terrorist activity. It includes addressing the causes of terrorism, such as poverty, inequality, destitution, grievances, and lack of welfare. Only then can terrorism be addressed. I believe that is when the nation, or the whole world will experience peacefulness."

This is what I said as I crossed the 9th hour into my filibuster-- which I did as a protest against the anti-terrorism bill. This is where I stand with the anti-terrorism bill, and it is the reason I decided to speak for more than 10 hours in parliament.

Once we decided on doing the filibuster, after much deliberation, the four to five hours during which I had to prepare was a chance to consider: How can my Minjoo Party and I effectively let the public know why we started a filibuster against the anti-terrorism bill?

Fortunately, the first speaker, Kim Gwang-jin, expertly explained the anti-terrorism bill. I decided to speak from a slightly different perspective.

I was determined to clearly communicate that the filibuster should not be viewed as an acceptance of terrorism in our society. I wanted to explore how the government can prevent terrorism without mobilizing violence against the weak. I also prepared resources to explain the anti-terrorism bill, which can also be referred to as a public surveillance bill or a National Intelligence Service (NIS) reinforcement bill.

The bill allows the NIS to exercise human rights violations, as long as they can cite terrorism as a motivation.

Following assembly members Kim Gwang-jin and Moon Byung-ho, I started speaking, and the very first point I made was that I strongly oppose all kinds of terrorist activities.

My position is founded on our history, which has been plagued by violence, torture and countless mysterious deaths. We all experienced this terror together; how could I not oppose terrorism activities?

However, if the anti-terrorism bill fails to address our concerns, and instead fools the people with poisonous clauses that point the knife at the victims of terrorism instead of the terrorists themselves, then thoughtful debate and thorough discussions are needed to address our concerns.

The anti-terrorism bill may be used as a public surveillance bill or as a tool to reinforce the NIS and take our country back to the dictatorship era.

According to Article 85 of the National Assembly Act, the use of power is only allowed during natural disaster, wartime, national disaster, or a national emergency, and upon agreement among all leading parties with more than 20 members. The fact that the anti-terrorism bill suggests the discharging of power implies that our nation is faced with a national emergency as dire as wartime or national disaster.

What is a national emergency? They are situations that are so dire that they disable the parliamentary groups' congressional processes. But intel on specific terrorism threats from North Korea or other entities does not necessarily qualify as a national emergency comparable to war or national disaster.

Isn't it obvious that the ambiguous and abstract guidelines of the "potential terrorist" could give the NIS total freedom?

For the sake of argument, let us pretend that our situation qualifies as a national emergency. Why then is the government or the Blue House not taking adequate measures? They have not called public servants to duty, strengthened surveillance on key national facilities, or mobilized reserve forces.

Another key point is that even if the terrorism threats we've received from North Korea qualify as a national emergency situation, the bill cannot be passed and power cannot be discharged, since the bill does not include North Korea as a terrorist entity. In other words, even if it is the appropriate time for the use of power, the bill cannot be applied here. Unless there is an in-depth discussion within the appropriate committee that modifies the bill, the anti-terrorism bill does not justify the discharging of power.

To me, the "anti-terrorism bill for the protection of the public and public safety" that prompted the filibuster is the sequel to the NIS bill. Unlike its name and purpose, the bill allows the NIS to exercise human rights violations, as long as they can cite terrorism as a motivation.

The public knows NIS as the organization behind many human rights violations, such as torture, unlawful detentions, and fabrications of evidence. The organization has a reputation for being loyal to dictatorships. Its recent actions include using online platforms to manipulate public opinion.

Would it be appropriate to allow such an organization to define and investigate "potential terrorists"?

Rather than discussing how I've broken a record, I would like to know if I adequately represented the voices of the public.

Isn't it obvious that the ambiguous and abstract guidelines of the "potential terrorist" could give the NIS total freedom?

It is also crucial to consider if our nation is in need of an NIS bill. In our country, we already have a Unified Defense law, a Management of Emergency Resources law, Anti-Terrorism Special Forces, and a National Anti-Terrorism Committee to combat terrorism. However, these resources are not being used. This was demonstrated at a recent interpellation, when it appeared that Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn did not even know that he was the head of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

"Facing unemployment issues itself is tough for our children. We must at least prevent their personal information from being collected, and protect them from facing unfair accusations and arrests such as those caused by the National Security Act in the past. We must keep them from walking down such a dark path. Therefore, we must review such a bill at least once. Actually, numerous times."

Human rights violations by the NIS are ongoing. However, they do not face any legal penalties, and there is no system in place to make them accountable in the future. The distrust against the intelligence agency --dating back to the dictatorship era-- must first be resolved.

Article 1 of the constitution of the Republic of Korea states: "The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic republic." And Article 37 states: "Freedoms and rights of citizens shall not be neglected on the grounds that they are not enumerated in the Constitution. The freedoms and rights of citizens may be restricted only when necessary for national security, to maintain law and order, or for public welfare. Even when such restriction is imposed, no essential aspect of freedoms or rights shall be violated."

In my four years with the National Assembly, the articles above have been my anchors every time I had a tough decision to make. The tension between national security, the maintenance of law and order, public welfare and personal freedom always exists. However, whenever these ideals collided, my political compass told me that I must be wise, patient, persistent, and selfless. I was continuously soul-searching to assess if I was acting in the public's interest.

Ten hours and 18 minutes of filibuster. I did it with sincerity. Rather than discussing how I've broken a record, I would like to know if I adequately represented the voices of the public.

Humans are not animals who need nothing but food. According to the constitution, citizens are the foundation of sovereignty. A citizen must experience freedom of the press and freedom of expression, free from any evil laws or restrictions, and be able to choose his or her own fate. The citizens of the Republic of Korea must obtain such rights and must be protected.

This is the core message of what I tried to tell President Park Geun-hye, the Blue House, and the government in my 10 hours and 18 minutes of filibuster. I sincerely hope that people do not mistake my filibuster for an attempt at stopping a bill from being passed for my own interests.

I sincerely do not want the length of my filibuster to be highlighted, or to be praised for setting a record. I want to know if I represented the people's desires on the podium.

My only hope is for my ideas to reach President Park Geun-hye and others in the Saenuri party, and that they would see my sincerity and earnestness.

This post first appeared on HuffPost Korea. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.