The Korea Herald


Standoff in National Assembly intensifies over key committees

Assembly speaker voted unilaterally says DP taking 11 committee chairs 'most suitable'

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : June 17, 2024 - 17:03

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National Assembly Speaker Rep. Woo Won-shik speaks during a press conference held at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap) National Assembly Speaker Rep. Woo Won-shik speaks during a press conference held at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

Rival political parties on Monday extended their standoff over picking the chairs of key standing committees of the National Assembly, leading to surging tension in the political sphere.

Tensions stemmed from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea’s unilateral decision last week to snatch 11 of the 18 standing committee chair positions for the first two years of the 22nd National Assembly, which began its four-year term on May 30. The opposition-led Assembly has so far elected main opposition lawmakers as Assembly speaker, and chairs of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and the House Steering Committee, which are considered the most powerful among standing committees that assess and approve bills to be put to vote in the plenary session.

The ruling People Power Party has boycotted the plenary sessions since the first Assembly meeting on June 5, when the opposition-led Assembly unilaterally elected Democratic Party Rep. Woo Won-shik as speaker.

Assembly Speaker Woo on Monday afternoon pledged to “reach a conclusion” on the agenda of selecting the leaders and the members of the standing committees, but stressed that he sees the ruling party accepting the main opposition’s unilateral plan as the most suitable option.

“We have limited time (for the main opposition and the ruling party to negotiate over selecting the leaders of the standing committees) by end-June,” Woo said in a press conference, urging the rival parties to reach a conclusion as soon as possible.

“I believe it is suitable for the first-largest party to head 11 committees and the second-largest party to get 7 committees,” he added.

Woo also expressed concerns about the possible scenario of the Democratic Party taking all 18 committee chair posts.

“If the Democratic Party takes all 18 committee chair posts, then it could infringe on the rights of the voters who supported the ruling People Power Party in the (latest April 10 parliamentary elections).”

Main opposition leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung also called for the ruling party to “return to the Assembly before the public starts to completely reject them,” in a Democratic Party leadership meeting held in the morning. He denounced and labeled the ruling party’s boycott as the willingness to “follow the rules of only (the presidential office) while ignoring the Constitution and the National Assembly Act.”