President Moon Jae-in is expected to appoint two new Cabinet ministers this week, including one handling relations with North Korea, despite opposition objections they are unfit for the jobs due to ethical and other problems, sources said Sunday.
Moon had earlier asked the National Assembly to send him confirmation hearing reports until Sunday for Unification Minister nominee Kim Yeon-chul and Venture Minister nominee Park Young-sun, a procedural step required for him to go ahead and appoint them.
By law, the National Assembly cannot reject a minister's nomination and refusal to adopt a confirmation hearing report is the most it can do to express objections. Even if no confirmation hearing report is adopted, the president can appoint a nominee after asking the parliament for a report until a specific period of time.
Conservative opposition parties, including the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, have demanded Moon withdraw the nominations of the two, accusing Park of lying under oath during her confirmation hearing and Kim of pro-North Korea bias.
Including Park and Kim, Moon is expected to appoint five new ministers Monday before he heads to Washington for summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump later this week, sources said.
The five were among a total of seven Cabinet nominations Moon made in early March. Two other nominations were derailed, with Moon withdrawing one of them, and the other nominee voluntarily stepping down, amid strong public criticism of their ethical lapses.
The appointments of Park and Kim are expected to draw a strong backlash from opposition parties.
"We are enraged, together with the people, at the senseless attitude of Cheong Wa Dae that appears to be enjoying the personnel fiasco, rather than fixing the problem," Rep. Lee Yang-soo, a floor spokesman of the main opposition LKP, said.
"We declare that all responsibility rests with the Moon Jae-in government for political disruptions in case the appointments of the two nominees are rammed through," he said. (Yonhap)