[Newsmaker] Political parties fail to agree on plenary meeting

By Kim Bo-gyung

Main opposition’s push to dismiss defense minister emerges as bone of contention

  • Published : Jul 15, 2019 - 17:23
  • Updated : Jul 15, 2019 - 17:26

Political parties failed to agree on a date for the last plenary meeting of the June parliamentary session, as the dispute over the main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s push for the dismissal of Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo dragged on.

On Monday, floor leaders -- Lee In-young of the ruling Democratic Party, Na Kyung-won of the Liberty Korea Party and Oh Shin-hwan of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party -- gathered for a meeting convened by National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang on the timeline of the remaining June parliamentary session that ends this week.

The Democratic Party sought to hold a plenary meeting on Friday, whereas the Liberty Korea Party and Bareunmirae Party are calling for a two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday to vote on a motion calling for the dismissal of Defense Minister Jeong.

The main opposition party is to officially submit a motion calling for Jeong’s dismissal over an incident last month in which a North Korean boat arrived undetected at a South Korean seaport in Samcheok, Gangwon Province. 

From left: Lee In-young of the ruling Democratic Party, National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, Na Kyung-won of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and Oh Shin-hwan of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party meet Monday. (Yonhap)

According to the National Assembly law, a dismissal motion has to be presented at a plenary meeting and put to a vote within 24-72 hours of the proposal, which ultimately requires at least two plenary meetings.

The Liberty Korea Party is keen on putting the motion to a vote after its failed attempt to get the defense minister fired in March for referring to the West Sea Defense Day as an “unpleasant clash between South and North Korea.”

“Unprecedented demands for the dismissal motion (of Defense Minister Jeong) and a parliamentary investigation (on the case of the North Korean boat) seem like a clear political strife. I can’t agree to a timeline for a political standoff. The schedule has to be made for the public and extra budget,” said Democratic Party Floor Leader Lee In-young.

Lee added the main opposition party is taking advantage of the pending supplementary budget to hound the ruling party on defense and security issues.

On the other side of the aisle, Liberty Korea Party Floor Leader Na Kyung-won said, “The Democratic Party is speaking negatively of the vote on Minister Jeong’s dismissal motion. … We aren’t making progress because of (the ruling party’s) refusal to schedule the plenary meeting for two days.”

Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in is expected to finalize the appointment of Prosecutor-General nominee Yoon Seok-youl, a move fiercely opposed by the Liberty Korea Party. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (