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Parliament to face bumpy road amid partisan wrangling

The National Assembly is expected to face a bumpy road in February as rival parties clash over a series of political scandals and the detention of a confidant of President Moon Jae-in.

By law, an extraordinary parliamentary session automatically convenes in February, April and June.

But the February session is not likely to go ahead smoothly as the parties have yet to reach an agreement on the assembly schedule, putting at stake a set of bills on people's livelihoods and reforms.


In January, the National Assembly sat idle as rival parties wrangled over a raft of issues that ranged from electoral reform to alleged real estate speculation by a former ruling party lawmaker.

Tensions further flared up after South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kyoung-soo was found guilty Wednesday of involvement in a massive online comments rigging case.

Kim, a confidant of Moon, was sentenced to two years in prison for colluding with a power blogger to carry out the illicit cyber operation to sway public opinion in favor of President Moon ahead of the 2017 presidential election.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party raised their political attacks on Moon with some lawmakers raising doubts that the 2017 election was fair.

"Moon should clarify whether or to what extent he was aware of Kim's involvement in the online opinion manipulation," LKP floor leader Na Kyung-won said at an emergency meeting with its lawmakers Thursday.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) warned Thursday that any attempt to deny the election outcome will face judgment of people who voluntarily held candlelight vigils in late 2016 against now-ousted former President Park Geun-hye over her massive corruption scandal.

"Rejecting the election outcome is to betray the people," DP floor leader Hong Young-pyo said.

"The LKP should come forward to enable the parliament to discuss people's livelihoods and work again," Hong said.

The LKP earlier pledged to boycott the whole parliamentary schedule in February in protest of Moon's appointment of a senior election watchdog official without a confirmation hearing.

Partisan wrangling also cast doubt on whether the parties can reach an agreement on details about electoral reform.

The DP and opposition parties agreed in December to consider the adoption of a new proportional representation system for electoral reform and to pass a revision in the election law by January.

But the rival parties have yet to reach an agreement on the issue with minor parties actively pushing for the overhaul to increase their presence in the local politics dominated by two big parties.

"As to Kim's ruling, the ruling party has issued reckless and dangerous comments that could be viewed as denying the separation of legal, administrative and judicial powers," said Kim Kwan-young, floor leader of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party.

"The LKP is also sticking to inflating suspicions while ignoring calls for electoral reform and livelihood-related issues."