An image of ruling Democratic Party lawmaker Park Byeong-seug (Yonhap)
Rep. Park Byeong-seug, a veteran politician with close ties to President Moon Jae-in, has effectively been confirmed as the inaugural speaker of the National Assembly.
Park, a six-term lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Party and the longest-serving lawmaker in the 21st National Assembly, was the sole candidate for the post on Wednesday after his competitor Rep. Kim Jin-pyo from the same party announced he was dropping out in a social media post.
“After contemplating for the past month, I decided not to register as a candidate for the position of National Assembly speaker and will uphold people’s faith in our party to concentrate on overcoming the economic crisis and prepare for the post-COVID-19 era,” Kim said in a Facebook post on the last day of registration.
Kim and Park had been touted as the most realistic competitors for the post, as it has been a tradition that the longest-serving lawmaker of the majority party serves as speaker.
The two-year chairmanship and two vice speaker seats are traditionally divided between the ruling and main opposition parties. A National Assembly speaker is barred by law from aligning with a political party.
It is his third bid for the parliamentary chairman seat after two unsuccessful attempts. He previously served as a vice speaker at the National Assembly in 2012 for two years.
Park, born in 1952, graduated from Sungkyunkwan University and worked as a journalist until entering the politics as a spokesperson for the then-ruling party in the initial stage of the Kim Dae-jung administration from 1998 to 2003.
While the election for the speaker post is yet to be held, Park is expected to be elected easily following the landslide victory of the Democratic Party in parliamentary elections held last month.
Three hundred new lawmakers for the 21st National Assembly were elected in the April 15 polls, in which the ruling Democratic Party and its sister party won a combined 177 seats out of 300 in a landslide victory. The Democratic Party merged with the sister party Tuesday and cemented its mega-majority status at the National Assembly.
By Ko Jun-tae (email@example.com