Politicians fund bombs and are often accused of dropping rhetorical ones. A South Korean politician threw an actual bomb this week.
Kim Sun-Dong, a member of Korea’s opposition Democratic Labor Party, threw a tear gas canister at the vice speaker of the ruling Grand National Party. Kim wanted to prevent a vote to ratify the U.S.-South Korean free trade pact. But about 20 minutes after the tear gas was released, the vote was taken, and the agreement passed.
Kim’s act was remarkable even for a country where politicians frequently act like juveniles. “He doesn’t deserve his Assembly position,” Hong Sung-gui, a professor at Kookmin University, told the English-language daily Korea Times. The paper said that Koreans hold parliament in low esteem because disagreements between political parties often devolve into “immature” behavior by politicians.
In fact, despite Kim’s bomb, Korean politicians behaved relatively well, according to Professor Hong. There were no fisticuffs, nor did sledgehammers and fire extinguishers get used to break down doors. That happened during a previous committee vote over the free-trade agreement, which some oppose in part for anti-dumping provisions.
Korean legislators have refused to adopt a code of conduct. Kim himself was unrepentant, telling the Korea Times that “I still regret I couldn’t stop the GNP’s pushing for the approval of the bill.”