The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Tuesday made official its stance against plans to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, while backing other parts of the government's reorganization strategy.
Countering the government’s plan to abolish it, the Democratic Party said the ministry should be expanded, with a reorganization of the ministry's functions. Rep. Kim Sung-hwan, who chairs the party’s policy planning committee, made such remarks during a press conference held at the National Assembly.
Kim said the Democratic Party is working on another restructuring plan that would keep the Gender Ministry with changes in its name and functions. Kim added that the Democratic Party will table its own plan when it negotiates with the ruling party after the National Assembly inspection of the government offices is concluded.
When asked if opposition to the government's restructuring plan has become the Democratic Party’s platform, Kim refused to provide a direct answer. “Please understand this as an official announcement from the head of the party’s policy planning committee.”
If the objection to the government’s restructuring plan becomes part of the Democratic Party’s platform, it will be highly difficult for the government to pass the reform plan at the National Assembly, where the main opposition party holds 169 out of 299 parliamentary seats.
The government then will have to turn to government-initiated legislation, which could, however, take several months before passing the reform plan, delaying President Yoon Suk-yeol’s plan to complete one of his campaign pledges.
Although Kim did not say that the party had unanimously decided to oppose the government’s plan, Kim hinted that the party is more or less against the government’s reform scheme. Kim said the party’s take on the abolition of the Gender Ministry has not changed since the presidential election, during which Yoon pledged to abolish the Gender Ministry.
During the presidential campaign, the Democratic Party criticized Yoon’s controversial pledge to abolish the ministry as an attempt to win support from young male voters.
The opposition party, however, will support the government’s plans to establish a new agency for overseas Korean and to elevate the status of Veterans Ministry.
Establishing the agency is part of the government's reorganization plan announced last week.
Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Lee Jae-myung has also said his party will actively support and cooperate for establishing the new overseas Koreans agency, saying it was also his election pledge when he was running for president.
“I agree on the need to legislating basic laws related to overseas Koreans and to establish a government body that can properly and systematically take care of administrative work related to overseas Koreans,” Lee said in a session of the Democratic Congress on World Koreans, a group affiliated to the party.
“Establishing the agency for overseas Koreans was once my election pledge. The Democratic Party will be responsible and push on with the plan.”
Meanwhile, Kim added it is just not the right time to start discussion on the government’s restructuring plan, as there are other pressing issues involving the country’s economy, diplomacy and security.
On Monday, Lee Jae-myung gave a similar opinion about the government’s reform plan. Lee warned that the reform plan is highly likely to grow into a political dispute. Lee also criticized that “the government has set the wrong priorities in its organizational reform." It was the first time that Lee raised his objection toward the plan, although that came during a closed meeting.
Rep. Park Yong-jin of the Democratic Party also wrote on his Facebook post that the party should unanimously oppose the government’s reform plan and prevent it from passing at the National Assembly.
Park criticized Yoon for utilizing the reform plan to recover his approval rating.
By Jo He-rim, Shim Woo-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org) (email@example.com)