Inter-Korean summit triggers mixed reactions from political parties

By Claire Lee
  • Published : Sept 18, 2018 - 18:06
  • Updated : Sept 18, 2018 - 18:09

Political parties responded to the third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang along partisan lines, with some opposition lawmakers calling for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “official announcement” of the country’s complete denuclearization before talking about any future economic collaborations.

Others were visibly touched, tearing up as they watched President Moon Jae-in arriving in Pyongyang on live television.

Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, said he hopes to see “real results” from the event, rather than a “mere spectacle” when it comes to the issue of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party respond as they watch President Moon Jae-in arriving in Pyongyang on live television at the National Assembly on Tuesday (Yonhap)

“Without (Kim Jong-un) providing with a full accounting of the size of the North’s nuclear warhead stockpile and missile arsenal, announcing a permanent end to the Korean War would be absurd,” he said.

“Without solving this issue first, no discussion on possible economic collaborations between the two countries would have any meaning.”

He also criticized the government for taking along 17 South Korean business leaders, including Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong, to accompany Moon for the summit.

“When it comes to economy, what the government should prioritize is the public welfare and local economy, not future collaborations with the North.”

Meanwhile, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, as well as the liberal-leaning Party for Democracy and Peace and Justice Party, openly supported the ongoing summit, calling it “historical” and “deeply moving.”

The Democratic Party’s Rep. Han Jeoung-ae teared up as she watched Moon and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un greet each other with an embrace at Sunan International Airport on TV.

Rep. Hong Young-pyo, floor leader of the ruling party, as well as Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, the ruling party chief policymaker, appeared visibly emotional. They briefly said watching the leaders of the two Koreas greeting each other in Pyongyang was “moving.”

“This is a historical day,” said Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan of the Party for Democracy and Peace. “I hope the Moon-Kim summit can make a meaningful opportunity for possible dialogues between Pyongyang and the US as well.”

Leaders of two opposition parties, the Liberty Korea Party and Bareunmirae Party, rejected a proposal to accompany President Moon in his trip to Pyongyang for the ongoing summit, saying it was improper for the parliament to be a “side branch” of a government entourage when there is no progress on the North’s denuclearization.

A total of four lawmakers have joined President Moon for the ongoing summit. 

They are: Lee Hae-chan, leader of the ruling Democratic Party; Chung Dong-young, leader of the minor opposition Party for Democracy and Peace; Lee Jeong-mi, leader of the liberal-leaning Justice Party and Rep. Park Jie-won of the Party for Democracy and Peace.