Citizens Coalition for Social Justice was launched on 24 April 2014 in Seoul, Korea by:
- Young-Moo Shin (Managing Partner, Shin & Park; Former President, the Korean Bar Association; President, the Inter-Pacific Bar Association) as Standing Representative; and
- Yoo-Sung Kim (President of Semyung University), Seung-Hoon Lee (Co-Chair, Committee on Green Growth), and Jong-Wha Park (Pastor, Kyungdong Church) as Co-Representatives
The Mission Statementof the Citizens’ Coalition for Social Justice1 reads as follows:
In 1945, we greeted liberation from the forced occupation of the empire of Japan. Three years later the National Assembly was convened in the southern half of the peninsula, and the Republic of Korea was thereby established.In less than two years the eruption of the Korean War turned the countryinto a wasteland.Overcoming the catastrophe, the Republic of Korea over the course of the next half-century successfully industrializedthe country and firmly established a democratic form of government.The fast pace of industrialization and democratization may be said to have been near miraculous feat. Now the task of constructing a modelnation endowed with lofty ethicalcharacter, and of making preparations for the future of a unified Korea,remainswith us.
These accomplishments notwithstanding, we currently are confronted with a country mired in stasis. Extremes of economicdisparity have created profound rifts in our society. The public educational system is in tatters, and the cost of private education keeps soaring. Opportunities for stable employmenthave diminished, and with the drastic rise in the cost of housing, the foundation for a middle class has eroded. For our younger work force, faced with growing unemployment, “equal opportunity” has become a mere empty slogan, andto them the future of our society appears grim, indeed. The birth rate in Korea is among the lowest recorded for the member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and this in turn has negatively impacted our potential for growth. The demographic shift towards an older population also forebodes a drastic fall in productivity.As the threat from North Korea intensifies, empty ideological debates and conflict prevail in the Republic of Korea, veering towards self-destruction. Per capita income, which reached $20,000 in 2007, has been at a standstill ever since. The situation described above alerts us to the fact that we face a crisis in our society.
In spite of this situation, our government and those in officeremain preoccupied with their political posturingand continue to makepopulist promises that are impossible to realize. The National Assembly, whose task it is to resolve such conflict and division, wastes its time promoting party interests. As in the past, the government indiscriminately interferes with the operations of private business, resulting inthe reduced productivity of a market system in which poisonous mushrooms of corruption proliferate.The legislative and executive branches routinely ignore lawful procedure time and again, thereby putting the principle of the rule of law at risk and bringing the law-abiding spirit of the population to paralysis. The fierce, self-serving competition amongprivate interest groups has weakened communal spirit and values, which are thenecessary foundation for a healthy society.
Under such circumstances, the judiciary should be the last bulwark upholding our shared standard of ethics and communal values. However, one cannot help but question whether the system has, indeed, fulfilled its charge. The problemsendemic to the current system must be acknowledged, when a single, Supreme Courtjudge has to render opinions on more than eight cases a day, resulting in numerous examples of miscarriage of justice. As the dignity of the courterodes, public distrust of the system increases.Self-scrutiny and systemic reform are essential in order for those engaged in the judiciary to exercise their office in accordance with law and moral conscience, free of the temptation of personal gain. However, such a prospect appears to be remote.
The unbelievable tragedy of the tour boat accident last month revealed plainly to all the infirm foundation of Korean society, leaving a deep wound in our hearts. Our national pride and image have suffered a great blow, one from which it will bedifficult to recover. We rend our hearts at the shameful sight of a society incapable of preventing such incidents. The seeds of this tragedy havebeen sprouting among us for some time, and we must accept responsibility for having left the problem to fester without constraint.
We must leave behindthis stasis and regression, and make a leap to a model country where name and reality correspond seamlessly. We must advance toward the brighter future of a society endowed with lofty moral character. To that end, it is urgent that we construct a productive system of governance, an administration without corruption, anda society led by competent officials. Above all, it requires a clean sweep of all forms of corruption. Only witha clean sweep of all forms of corruption is it possible to establish a rule of law that is responsive to social justice. The rule of law is the foundation that guarantees liberty and human rights. It is the base on which social justice may be realized, insofar as the rule of law is theprinciple by which each of the public sectors of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches function in their pursuit of the common good. When the rule of law is firmly in place,the members of society will carry out theirresponsibilities and obligations conscientiously. A happier, more morally committed community will take shape when people trust and care for each other.
The recently inaugurated Citizens’ Coalition for Social Justice is intended to serve as a forum where hearts and minds that aspire for a more just, more compassionate and ethical society can come together. Citizens’ Coalition for Social Justice will be a crucible in which well informed knowledge, wisdom and keen conscience will meld together. Actively promoting the rule of law, Citizens’ Coalition for Social Justicewill fight corruption, encourage the drive to abide by law, and through legislative initiatives that reflect the spirit of our time and shared communal values, Citizens’ Coalition for Social Justicewill become the catalyst for the peaceful resolution of conflict and the forging of unity out of division.
To realize such goals, we affirm the following pledge to the citizen-public, who has always been the agent of historical development:
●We, recognizing our grave responsibility amidst the prevalent corruption and
conflict of interest in our society, pledge to work toward the building of a model
nation with lofty moral character through self reform.
● We pledge to dedicate ourselves to the task of firmly establishing the rule of law,
which is the foundation for a just society free of corruption.
● We pledge to work to resolve extremes of inequality and conflict of interest and
become the vanguard for overcoming the political and economic stasis in
● Looking forward to a unified Korea, we pledge to do our utmost to develop and
implement educational programs that befit a future generation as citizens of the
1) This is an English translation of the Korean original.