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22nd Assembly begins new 4-year term

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : May 30, 2024 - 15:41

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A banner that reads, A banner that reads, "The Opening of the 22nd National Assembly" hangs outside the National Assembly Building in Yeouido, western Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)

The National Assembly began its 22nd four-year session Thursday, with the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea having the majority of 175 seats in the 300-member parliament, foreshadowing another heated partisan struggle against the conservative president and ruling party, which holds 108 seats.

The National Assembly will hold its first plenary session on June 5, where it will elect a new speaker to lead the new parliament for the first two years.

As it is customary for the party with the greatest number of seats to nominate the parliamentary speaker, the Democratic Party selected five-term lawmaker Woo Won-shik as the speaker candidate on May 16. The Democratic Party also selected Rep. Lee Hack-young as the vice speaker nominee, while the People Power Party’s vice speaker candidate has yet to be decided as of Thursday.

The opening ceremony for the 22nd session is set to be held after the chairs of the parliamentary committees are decided. The two rival parties have been already locking horns over the chair positions for the parliamentary legislation and judicial committees, which are both key committees with the power to approve bills before they are put to a plenary vote. If there is no progress in the negotiations regarding the chairs of the standing committees between the two parties, the Democratic Party vowed to vote on the standing committee chair positions after the first plenary session on June 7, in accordance with the National Assembly Act.

As the 22nd National Assembly faces tricky issues that were left unresolved during the previous session, which ended Wednesday, concerns have been raised as to whether the rival parties will cooperate in dealing with such issues.

On Thursday, the Democratic Party vowed to reintroduce all bills that have been “scrapped by the People Power Party and President Yoon Suk Yeol,” including the bill mandating a special probe into allegations of government interference in an internal investigation of the death of the young marine.

Marine Cpl. Chae Su-geun, 20, was killed during a search and rescue mission for victims of torrential rainfall in July 2023. The bill failed to pass Tuesday after being put to a revote during the final plenary session of the 21st National Assembly.

During a policy coordinating meeting held Thursday morning, Democratic Party floor leader Rep. Park Chan-dae stated that it would reintroduce the special counsel bill and also propose an additional bill to provide civil support payments ranging between 250,000 won ($181) and 350,000 won to all citizens, depending on their income levels. The Democratic Party is also scheduled to hold an assembly meeting Thursday afternoon.

Additionally, the People Power Party will propose its first bill Friday morning, following an overnight workshop with party lawmakers to discuss the party’s overall strategy for the 22nd National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Rebuilding Korea Party, a party formed and led by former Minister of Justice Cho Kuk, vowed during its meeting with the press Thursday to “fight vigorously” in the 22nd National Assembly. Lawmakers of the New Reform Party arrived at the National Assembly building together Thursday morning to reaffirm their determination ahead of the new start of the term.

The composition of the 22nd National Assembly in seats is outlined in this graphic image. (National Election Commission/Yonhap) The composition of the 22nd National Assembly in seats is outlined in this graphic image. (National Election Commission/Yonhap)