firmly in place has been confirmed through an abundance of historical evidence.
Political theater harms the nation 
The difference is that two-year-olds actually grow up—when will our lawmakers do the same? With every election, it seems that we have a crop of elected politicians who offer reason to believe they will be different from their predecessors. But instead of fulfilling their promise, they just turn out to be full of promises.
Hong Jung-wook, a lawmaker with the ruling Grand National Party, seemed to be a candidate who could act courageously once in office. The son of a famous actor, he's a graduate of both Harvard and Stanford, was already wealthy at a young age, and the author of a semi-autobiography that has sold over 1 million copies in Korea. However, he has become just another politician—running from tough decisions while making political calculations about his future.
During a heated battle over ratifying the EU-Korea free trade agreement, Hong did the equivalent of taking his ball and running home. He walked out of a parliamentary committee meeting as some of his colleagues, predictably, showed off their fighting skills
To be fair to Hong, it is uncouth for politicians to engage in such fisticuffs. Violent lawmakers, led by the likes of Kang Ki-gap of the Democratic Labor Party, deserve to be condemned for their boorish actions. It should be unacceptable for our elected representatives to be so foolish.
And to put things in perspective, there was a time that American politicians also fought, even the infamous duel of 1804 in which the Vice-President of the United States shot and killed the former secretary of state. But those were different times, and our politicians should have the intelligence to avoid that type of infantile behavior. That politicians in other countries and in history have done stupid things doesn't mean it is justified for our politicians to do the same. That they can't control themselves makes me wonder why such childish people should have the power to make decisions over others. Their unlimited stupidity is a good argument for limited government.
That still doesn't excuse Hong's actions, however. His willingness to use such an excuse to avoid a controversial vote demonstrates another problem with our lawmakers: Cowardice! The stupid physical fights capture the attention of citizens and get posted on YouTube, but a more serious concern is that they are politicians rather than statesmen. They think about the next election, parochial issues, not about how to improve things for the nation overall. Free trade is too important for Rep. Hong to disappear. Instead of taking a leading role, he blocked the agreement by walking out.
As bad as the violent members are, we must also blame those lawmakers who shirk their duties for fear of violence. Hong has now set the precedent that votes can be blocked because some of the violent knuckleheads are determined to prevent a vote. When the tough gets going, will he always get going toward the door?
North Korean human rights bill
Koreans are both famous and infamous for having a "hurry, hurry" approach to life. When it comes to legislation that can truly help people, however, it seems that the approach is "slow, delay, block, blame." Even when there are pressing matters, lawmakers will delay, pretending that the problem will go away or that important issues can be solved on their slow timeline.
Gridlock in government is not always a bad thing, especially when lawmakers seek to raise taxes or punish business. But what about the North Korean human rights bill? It has been sitting on the shelf for five years, picking up dust as the ruling and opposition parties engage in political theater. The violent members, naturally, don't want to discuss their violent tactics. Rather, like a spoiled baby, they seek to blame others.
For a bill to become law, a majority of National Assembly members must vote for it. The main culprit is Woo Yoon-keun, a Democratic Party lawmaker who has refused to submit the bill to the legislation committee. Woo, the chairman of the committee, he blames the disagreement between the ruling and opposition parties. Knowing that unanimous consent is impossible, he nevertheless calls for unanimous consent as a condition for him to submit the bill. In other words, as long as the Democratic Party opposes the bill, the parliament won't have a chance to vote on it. Woo's irresponsibility and immorality are unforgivable. Based on the way Mr. Woo misuses his knowledge of the law, the law school that granted him a degree should consider asking him to return it.
The lawmakers of the National Assembly must respect and comply with both the spirit and letter of the law. Mr. Woo is pressing for unanimous consent, rather than the principle of majority rule as stated by the law, when he knows unanimous consent is virtually impossible.
In the rough and tumble world of politics, it isn't surprising that politicians will have verbal battles and resort to trickery. But when it comes to important issues—such as saving poor North Koreans from Kim Jong-il`s dictatorship—then they should drop the political games and fulfill their moral responsibilities.
Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said, "The Americans will always do the right thing... after they`ve exhausted all the alternatives." In South Korea, our lawmakers don't even exhaust all of the alternatives by trying different policies. Instead, they engage in fisticuffs, legislative chicanery, and immoral behavior, putting on a show rather than trying to get things done.
Democracy allows citizens to send representatives on their behalf. At this point, it seems that we can't leave democracy to the politicians. We must press our politicians to raise their standards of behavior, to stop the legislative games, and to stop physically attacking each other. The FTA with the European Union and the North Korean human rights bill have both been languishing because of political foolishness.
Perhaps one day South Korean politicians will grow up. For now, however, it seems that the National Assembly is still one big baby crib.
By Kim Chung-ho / President of the Center for Free Enterprise