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South Korean government seeks ban of small leftist party

SEOUL — The government of President Park Geun-hye asked the Constitutional Court of South Korea on Tuesday to disband a small leftist party accused of supporting North Korea at the cost of the South’s national security.

Since its founding in late 2011, the United Progressive Party has been a lightning rod for criticism from Park’s conservative Saenuri Party. Several of its key members were arrested in September on charges of plotting armed rebellion against the South Korean government in the event of war on the Korean Peninsula.

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The government’s decision, adopted during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday and quickly endorsed by Park, marked the first lawsuit of its kind. No political party in South Korea has been shut down by the government or a court decision since Syngman Rhee, South Korea’s dictatorial founding president, forced the closure of a leftist party in 1958.

“The platform of the United Progressive Party pursues a North Korean-style socialism,” Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said during a news conference. “We determined that its activities, such as a treason plot by its core elements, followed North Korea’s strategy to revolutionize the South.”

By law, the Constitutional Court can disband a political party if six or more of its nine justices agree that the party “violated the basic democratic order.”

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