The Korea Herald


Parties remain at odds on normalizing parliament

By Kim So-hyun

Published : April 4, 2018 - 15:01

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Ruling and opposition parties on Wednesday failed to narrow differences on how to revise the Constitution and normalize this month’s extraordinary National Assembly session.

Floor leaders Woo Won-shik of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Kim Sung-tae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, Kim Dong-cheol of the Bareun Future Party and Roh Hoe-chan of a joint floor negotiation bloc of the Justice Party and Party for Democracy and Peace held a breakfast meeting, but couldn’t reach a compromise on either issue.

This month’s parliamentary session came to a standstill on its first day on Monday, as the parties clashed over contentious bills.

The floor leaders of the four major parties hold a breakfast meeting at a restaurant in Seoul on April 4. (Yonhap) The floor leaders of the four major parties hold a breakfast meeting at a restaurant in Seoul on April 4. (Yonhap)

The Liberty Korea Party and the Bareun Future Party boycotted legislative meetings including the plenary session that was scheduled for Monday afternoon, calling on the Democratic Party to approve a revision to the Broadcast Act within this month.

Under the revised bill, the chief of a public broadcaster can be selected upon approval of two-thirds of the 13 board members – seven of whom are recommended by the ruling party and six by the opposition.

Opposition lawmakers proposed the bill in 2016 in a bid to strengthen the independence of public broadcasters, and the Democratic Party had supported it when it was an opposition party. The then ruling party Liberty Korea Party was against it.

The Democratic Party is insisting the parliament must first pass another contested bill to establish an independent agency for investigating corruption among senior officials and their families. The agency is one of President Moon Jae-in’s key campaign pledges.

Democratic Party floor leader Woo said he proposed discussing the two bills in a meeting of the policy committee chief and vice floor leaders to normalize parliamentary sessions, and the constitutional revision in a meeting of floor leaders.

The other parties, however, did not clarify their positions on the proposal during the meeting on Wednesday, Woo said.

The parties also remain widely divided over how to amend the Constitution.

The Democratic Party supports a bill proposed by the Moon administration that changes the current single five-year presidency to a maximum of two consecutive four-year terms.

The Liberty Korea Party calls for a system that gives more power to the prime minister and has the parliament elect the prime minister. Under the Liberty Korea Party’s constitutional revision draft, the president would be in charge of diplomacy and national security while the prime minister would handle domestic affairs.

Noting that what the Liberty Korea Party proposes is a semipresidential system, Woo said the Democratic Party could not agree to it.

“We should be looking at how to divide the president’s powers based on a presidential system,” Woo said.

Liberty Korea Party floor leader Kim said the constitutional revision should be sorted out in a meeting of Moon and representatives of the parliamentary negotiation body as the ruling party merely supports the president’s bill.

Woo disagreed, saying the constitutional amendment should be determined by the National Assembly.

By Kim So-hyun (