The Korea Herald


National Assembly mulls revote of special probe bill against first lady

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Feb. 18, 2024 - 16:22

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Lawmakers attend a plenary session at the National Assembly held in December last year in western Seoul. (Yonhap) Lawmakers attend a plenary session at the National Assembly held in December last year in western Seoul. (Yonhap)

This month’s provisional session of the National Assembly is set to kick off on Monday, but the opposition-led Assembly has yet to decide when to cast a revote on the special probe bill against the first lady.

The rival parties in recent weeks have locked horns over the timing of the revote after President Yoon Suk Yeol, on Jan. 5, vetoed a bill that would allow the Assembly to order a special investigation into the stock manipulation allegations surrounding his wife Kim Keon Hee.

The bill was one of two probe proposals passed by the opposition in December last year. Additionally, the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea has been urging an investigation into the so-called "Five-billion-won Club" associated with the Daejang-dong development scandal.

The ruling People Power Party has criticized the delay as the main opposition's attempt to weaponize the scandal surrounding Kim ahead of the upcoming general election scheduled for April 10.

"(The timing of the revote) has already exceeded the normal timeframe required for voting," Yoon Jae-ok, floor leader of the People's Power Party, told reporters at the National Assembly on Friday.

"(The Democratic Party of Korea) is attempting to use the two investigation bills for the election and trying to cherry-pick the timing of the revote for its liking. This could result in a massive backlash," he added.

Ruling party officials have eyed the upcoming plenary session scheduled for Feb. 29 for the revote to take place.

As of Sunday, it has been 44 days since Yoon vetoed the two special probe bills. This marks the longest period that a bill struck down by the current president was held at the National Assembly before a revote. Yoon has so far vetoed a total of six bills, and the National Assembly had cast a revote on the other four bills, including a pro-labor bill, within two weeks of the president’s decision.

Under the law, the president is banned from vetoing a bill that has been already struck down and sent back to the Assembly once. But for the Assembly to pass such bill, it requires at least 151 of the total 300 members to be physically present during the revote. Two-thirds of the total must also vote in favor of the passing, while a bill that has been put to a vote for the first time only requires a simple majority vote.

Another bill on the Assembly's agenda ahead of the election is an amendment to the Public Official Election Act. The ruling party has been pushing for the bill which would replace one Assembly seat each from Seoul and North Jeolla Province with those from Incheon and Gyeonggi Province.