The Korea Herald


Ruling party interim leader appoints new leadership committee members

Main opposition party narrows National Assembly Speaker candidates to two seasoned politicians

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : May 12, 2024 - 15:06

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Hwang Woo-yea, former deputy prime minister-turned-ruling party interim leader (Yonhap) Hwang Woo-yea, former deputy prime minister-turned-ruling party interim leader (Yonhap)

The ruling party’s new interim leader on Sunday named members of the emergency leadership committee, who will be joining him in helping the incoming lawmakers prepare for the start of the new parliament on May 30.

Hwang Woo-yea, former deputy prime minister-turned-ruling party interim leader, named incumbent People Power Party Reps. Yoo Sang-bum, Jun Joo-hyae, and Eom Tae-young alongside incoming lawmaker Kim Yong-tae, as the new members of the emergency leadership committee, according to a statement released by the party’s senior spokesperson Yoon Hee-seok.

Of the four nominees, Yoo and Eom were reelected in the latest April 10 parliamentary elections to serve in the incoming parliament, while Kim was elected for the first time. Jun, currently a first-term lawmaker, on the other hand, failed to be reelected.

Hwang also named Rep. Jeong Jeom-sig, reelected to serve in the incoming parliament, as the new chairman of the party’s policy committee. The position automatically puts Hwang on the leadership committee.

Sunday’s announcement signaled a wrap-up in the nomination of the new members of the emergency leadership committee, with Hwang having said last week that he seeks to appoint “around 7 to 9 people.”

On Thursday, the party previously elected Rep. Choo Kyung-ho, a two-term lawmaker who served as the first finance minister under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, as its new floor leader, making him part of the committee as well.

The nominees for the new committee members, the majority of whom are viewed as “pro-Yoon” politicians, were reportedly set to attend a dinner with President Yoon on Monday.

A high-level meeting of Cabinet, presidential office and ruling party members was held Sunday afternoon, marking the first such meeting since last month's election. The meeting, which was attended by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Hong Chul-ho, the senior presidential secretary for political affairs, People Power Party floor leader Choo and more, was held behind closed doors, in line with a recent reshuffle in the presidential office, the Cabinet and the ruling party, an official at the presidential office who declined to be named told reporters.

On the reason behind Hwang’s decision to cut back the number of committee members from the previous 11, spokesperson Yoon Hee-seok explained that it was in line with the committee identity “to swiftly prepare for the upcoming national convention,” which observers project to take place next month or in July. The ruling party will pick its new leader for the incoming parliament at the national convention.

The committee will be officially launched after the members are formally approved at a national committee meeting scheduled for Monday.

The committee’s launch comes a month after the former leader of the party’s emergency leadership committee Han Dong-hoon stepped down a day after the party’s crushing defeat in the April 10 parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, the list of candidates for the next National Assembly Speaker has narrowed down to two lawmakers from the main opposition party, who are both seasoned politicians and successfully reelected in the latest election.

Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Choo Mi-ae, who was justice minister for former President Moon Jae-in, will compete against Rep. Woo Won-shik, a four-time lawmaker with the same party for the role that heads the legislative body here and presides over the plenary.

The announcement came as another four-term lawmaker and Democratic Party Rep. Jung Sung-ho decided to drop out of the race, saying that the move was based on his hopes for "a transition from the current administration," in a text message sent to reporters on Sunday.

Choo and Jung are considered as "pro-Lee Jae-myung" faction within the opposition, while observers say Woo is relatively moderate.

The main opposition plans to hold an intra-party election on May 16 to select the next Assembly speaker, who will replace the current Speaker Kim Jin-pyo. The winner of the election will officially take office following a separate election involving all incoming lawmakers during a plenary session. The schedule for the plenary session where the election will take place has yet to be announced.

Though there are no such rules here, it is customary for the Speaker to be elected from the largest party in the Assembly.