A week after a South Korean lawmaker set off a tear gas bomb in a parliamentary session, police there haven't brought charges against him and some in the country are hailing him as a hero. The lawmaker, Kim Seon-dong, represents the opposition Democratic Labor Party, which opposed the passage of a free trade agreement with the United States. On Wednesday, local media noted that police there had yet to charge or even investigate Kim for the gas attack. Many in Korea are happy for that, as they see Kim and his tear gas as comparable to those who fought the Japanese in World War II. As one English-language Korean columnist pointed out, opposition politicians have little recourse in Korea's government, which is dominated by a single party on both a legislative and executive level. In a way, he's Korea's one-man version of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party combined.
After the outburst last week (that's a red-eyed Kim at left being led out of the chambers afterward), the Wall Street Journal reported that "because the incident occurred in parliament ... prosecutors or the police can only launch an official investigation if parliament presses charges against Mr. Kim." The ruling Grand National Party said it would hold Kim responsible, but it didn't specifically threaten to press charges. And so far it hasn't. Working from a Korean-language news report on Munhwa, one of the nation's four major broadcasters, Asian Correspondent blogger Nathan Schwartzman reports that "no investigation of him has even begun and criticism of the police is mounting," and that "many are calling the delay by prosecutors an example of abuse of the law." Civic organizations have called for such an investigation, but the National Assembly has not, Schwartzman reports, and so even though Kim clearly broke the law, it doesn't look like he'll face consequences.