A partisan clash is expected over the ratification of the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement in which more than 200 mistranslations were found recently.
The parliamentary foreign affairs committee Wednesday opened a two-day session, during which the ruling and opposition parties were sharply divided on whether to ratify the agreement.
The ruling Grand National Party is determined to ratify the agreement within the National Assembly’s extra session that ends April 30.
The main opposition Democratic Party, on the other hand, insists on addressing the faulty phrases and penalizing officials responsible for them.
On the previous day, GNP lawmakers of the committee referred the agreement to the plenary session, pledging to make necessary amendments in the future, but in the absence of opposition parties.
“It is our goal to submit the issue to the plenary session on Friday,” said a GNP official.
Opposition parties, however, insist that the foreign minister and the chief negotiator be reprimanded first and President Lee Myung-bak apologize for the dispute.
“Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Trade Minister Kim Jong-hoon should resign, taking charge for the mistranslated documents,” said DP floor leader Park Jie-won on Wednesday in a meeting of senior lawmakers.
The trade minister, in response to the opposition calls, held a press conference on the same day, accepting full responsibility for the situation.
“I will continue to fulfill my duties until ordered otherwise, but am ready to take all responsibilities, even to step down, if so requested,” Kim said.
He nevertheless asserted that the FTA should take effect as planned.
The Korea-U.S. FTA, which passed the parliamentary committee back in 2008, is also facing similar controversy.
“We will closely discuss with the National Assembly whether or not to resubmit the KORUS FTA,” said the Foreign Ministry’s negotiator on Wednesday.
“It is true that the Korean version of the pact has been partially mistranslated.”
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org