The 21st National Assembly is set to begin its official proceedings Thursday, 48 days after the newly elected lawmakers’ terms began on May 30. President Moon Jae-in will address the parliament at the opening ceremony.
“President Moon Jae-in will address the parliament at the opening ceremony that will be held at 2 p.m.,” Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok said, adding that Moon’s original schedule for Thursday concerned the Korean New Deal. The Korean New Deal is the Moon administration’s economic development project centered on ecofriendly and information technologies.
“However, as the National Assembly’s cooperation is critical to the success of Korean New Deal, (the president) is attending the ceremony.”
This is the longest-ever delay of the parliament’s opening ceremony. The previous record was set in 2008, when the 18th National Assembly began its work on July 11.
The 21st National Assembly has gotten off to a rocky start. Due to discord between the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and the main opposition United Future Party, the National Assembly speaker was elected in the absence of the opposition for the first time since 1967.
In addition, all 18 parliamentary committees will be chaired by ruling party lawmakers for the first time since democratization was achieved in the 1980s.
This year the delays centered on how to assign committee chair positions, but on Tuesday the two sides reached a compromise.
Under the agreement -- signed by the ruling party floor leader, Rep. Kim Tae-nyeon, and his United Future Party counterpart, Rep. Joo Ho-young -- the bill review subcommittees of 11 parliamentary committees will have two chairs each in an attempt to give the opposition more leverage.
On Monday and Tuesday, the leaders of the ruling and main opposition parties will address the parliament, and the interpellation session will be held July 22-24.
The National Assembly is finally getting off to a start, but the parties are likely to clash from the outset over a number of thorny issues -- from confirmation hearings to the matter of establishing an independent body to investigate allegations against high-level government officials.
The confirmation hearing for National Police Agency chief nominee Kim Chang-ryong is scheduled for Monday, while that for Unification Minister nominee Lee In-young is scheduled for July 23.
Issues surrounding the late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon are expected to be the main sticking point in Kim’s hearing, while a number of questions have been raised about Lee, including the circumstances surrounding his son’s exemption from military service.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org