The following are excerpts of a written interview between NewsWorld and Kil Jeong-woo, a Saenuri Party member, in which he spoke of North Korean issues and female & family issues while sitting on the National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee and the Gender Equality and Family Committee.
Rep. Kil Jeong-woo gives his speech at a seminar on the Park Geun-hye government’s trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korean economic cooperation at the National Assembly on April 25.
Question: Rep. Kil Jeong-woo, you and the Korea Mecenat Association held a parliamentary seminar on the legislation of the so-called Act on Mecenat on April 30. I heard that you submitted a related measure last year. Would you introduce the proposal?
Answer: A parliamentary seminar on the legislation of the proposed Act on Mecenat took place for the second time, following the first one last August. Mecenat is referring to corporate support of culture and arts.
I initiated and submitted the proposed act on the support of culture and arts patronage last September, designed to spur the raising of financial resources for the culture and arts fields through the private sector by encouraging corporate donations in the areas. If and when it is enacted, the act will be a burden from a short-term perspective: a drop in tax revenues resulting from the government’s provision of tax benefits to companies who provide patronage to culture and the arts, but it will have an effect of substituting for the government’s fiscal support to the culture and arts sectors and creating jobs for youth. I believe that the legislation is essential for translating into action the new government’s key policy goal of promoting cultural prosperity. The bill is pending negotiations with the government on the provision of tax benefits to companies that provide patronage to culture and arts.
Culture is a national asset through which social conflicts can be resolved and individuals can live a happy life, transcending the wisdom of just entertaining. I appeal for your support and concern over mecenat so that the nation can establish a foundation for becoming a cultural powerhouse by passing the bill through the 19th National Assembly.
Q: I heard that you are ready to submit the proposed act on the establishment and operation of “Arirang International Broadcasting Foundation,” a special incorporated body. Could you comment on this matter?
A: An international broadcasting channel needs to do more than just publicize Korea around the globe. As global attention to and demand for Korean cultural contents are mounting, an international broadcasting channel should promote international culture and media exchanges. It can be also be charged with proactively dealing with peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, international situations in Northeast Asia, the North Korean nuclear arms question, diplomatic and trade issues, and territorial issues, as well as formulating opinions favoring us.
Arirang TV & Radio, which made its debut in 1997, has the status of a non-profit foundation under the Civil Code, so it has a limit in carrying out the nation’s special purpose missions due to budgetary constraints and difficulties related to government policy support. A parliamentary seminar took place to collect views from various walks of life to fix the woes and problems facing Arirang TV & Radio. I’ve proposed a bill on the establishment and operation of the tentatively named Arirang International Broadcasting Foundation, calling for transforming Arirang TV & Radio into a special incorporated body.
Q: The Gaeseong Industrial Complex, the last bastion of inter-Korean economic cooperation, is on the verge of permanent closure. What do you think of the preconditions for building up trust between South and North Korea and what should both sides do to this end?
A: President Park Geun-hye stresses that “peace accumulated through trust building is the true peace and the cornerstone for leading to unification.” Trust in the so-called trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula is a key means for denuclearization, the first step toward ensuring peace, not the goal. In another words, it means a process of contributing to ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula by building the groundwork for inter-Korean economic cooperation through trust. In order to establish a foundation for sustainable peace, exchanges and cooperation, pressure and persuasion, and bilateral and multilateral talks should be carried out simultaneously toward trust building. Carrots and sticks are to be employed together, and North Korea’s participation should be promoted. We have to never give up the possibility of restoring the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. We should make efforts to go beyond more than just reopening the complex for the future through a variety of channels.
Of late, global attention is focused on South Korea’s approaches toward North Korea and diplomatic policies. South Korea needs to aggressively inform Washington, Beijing, and Pyongyang of our determination to establish an economic community on the Korean Peninsula and solve the division. The North Korean issue is our issue, so South Korea should take the initiative and aggressively cope with it. Now is the time for South and North Korea to come together to solve these conflicts.
Q: You were in Tokyo as a member of the Korean-Japanese Parliamentarians League on May 7. Are there any moves against the current Japanese tendency of turning to the right?
A: Japanese conservatives’ tendency of turning toward the right extremists is in the making, as Japanese Cabinet members paid homage to the Yasukuni Shrine and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a statement denying Japanese imperialists’ invasion into Asia. A Korean delegation visited Japan and met with Fukushiro Nokaga, chairman of the Japanese-Korean Parliamentarians League and former Japanese finance minister, on May 7 to deliver a protest letter expressing the Korean side’s worries and regrets. It was through a channel of politicians tending to take a more flexible attitude than government officials.
The Korean side made it clear that Japan’s turning to the extreme right will severely affect not only the national interests of Japan, but also stability and peace in Northeast Asia. Both sides also discussed ways of restoring relations between South Korea and Japan, which are turning from bad to worse.
Q: You are the sole male member from the ruling Saenuri Party, one of three male lawmakers sitting on the National Assembly Gender Equality and Family Committee. Would you comment on the background of your appointment to the committee and the reasons for your concerns on female issues?
A: It is not unusual for male lawmakers to sit on the Gender Equality and Family Committee. We’ve already entered an era of a female president. The National Assembly Gender Equality and Family Committee handles not just female issues, but also youth and family issues. Female and youth & children issues that have been neglected so far and family issues, an integral part of Korean society, are considered to be the biggest focus from the National Assembly. I began to turn to female issues as a member of the 17th National Assembly, and I have been influenced by my wife, Ahn Myung-ok, who served as the first chairwoman of the Women’s Human Rights Commission of Korea.
Q: Almost one year has passed since you were elected as a lawmaker of the 19th National Assembly. Would you introduce your parliamentary activities?
A: One year in office seems to be a long time for me as I’m unfamiliar as a first-term parliamentarian, and I’ve been grappling with numerous and divergent tasks. Despite the reality, I’ve done my best in accomplishing these tasks. I’ve also received an “Excellent Parliamentarian Award” from the Civic Organization Alliance for my contributions and the efforts I’ve made while sitting on the Gender Equality and Family Committee and the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee as well as serving as the chief secretary of the Saenuri Party Chairman’s Office. Of late, I’ve been focusing on North Korean issues by holding interviews and participating in seminars. I’ve been stressing South Korea’s taking the initiative in addressing North Korean issues while struggling to pass bills on the protection of the underprivileged.
Q: : What activities do you want to carry out in your constituency of Yangcheon-A of Seoul Metropolitan City?
A: On top of the promises I’ve made to my constituents, I strive to make the Yangcheon-gu area a warm-hearted community full of life, sharing, and caring. First, I hope the district will be an area free from those dying of heart attacks, so all residents from students on up are asked to undergo cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training programs to save lives in the case of emergency. I myself have received a certificate of CPR-AED training. I want to make it not just CPR training, but an environment in which respect for human lives is pervasive. I’m also trying to establish a “caring for the needy” system linking the district’s companies, regional children’s centers and elderly people’s houses.