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The Peninsula

Political Polarization in the National Assembly

Published December 10, 2019
Author: Korea View
Category: South Korea

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

  • For the fifth year in a row, the National Assembly failed to pass a budget by the December 2 deadline.
  • The ruling Minjoo Party sent several bills through the new fast-track legislation process despite the objection of the opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP).
  • In response, the LKP has threatened to filibuster 199 bills until the end of the regular parliamentary session on December 10.

Implications: This most recent legislative gridlock revealed that political tensions extend beyond the highly publicized controversies around cabinet appointments and are becoming an established part of everyday South Korean politics. The LKP’s ongoing filibuster is aimed at preventing a vote on fast-tracked bills proposed by the government to accelerate election and prosecution reform. It is also preventing the passage of several other bills, such as one to make school zones safer. The Minjoo Party has accused the LKP of holding these tangible bills affecting people’s livelihoods “hostage” for their political agenda. Simultaneously, the ruling party has no plans to make compromises with the LKP. Instead, the Minjoo Party intends to work with minor opposition parties to circumvent the LKP.

Context: Members have also refused to keep their feud within the walls of the National Assembly. Last month, the chairman of the Liberty Korea Party completed an eight-day hunger strike to oppose the Moon administration. Earlier this year, members of the LKP also publicly protested the administration’s nomination of Cho Kuk as justice minister.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Soojin Hwang, Hyoshin Kim, and Rachel Kirsch.

Photo from the Republic of Korea’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.

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