Korea’s rival parties clash over revote on investigation into first lady

The ruling People Power Party criticized the main opposition party's move as an attempt to delay the scheduling of the revote to gain an upper hand in the April parliamentary elections.

Jung Min-kyung

Jung Min-kyung

The Korea Herald


Democratic Party of Korea floor leader Hong Ik-pyo delivers a speech lambasting President Yoon Suk-yeol's decision to veto two special investigation bills, in front of lawmakers of the four opposition parties, at the National Assembly in western Seoul on December 5, 2024. PHOTO: YONHAP/ THE KOREA HERALD

January 8, 2024

SEOUL – Korea’s two main rival parties have been engaged in a tug-of-war in recent days over the scheduling of a revote for two special investigation bills vetoed Friday by President Yoon Suk Yeol. One of the bills pushes for an investigation into alleged stock manipulation by first lady Kim Keon Hee.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea is currently considering filing for an adjudication with the Constitutional Court, for the court to decide whether Yoon’s veto infringes on their power as the sole authority to draw bills and enact legislation as granted by the Constitution.

The ruling People Power Party criticized the main opposition party’s move as an attempt to delay the scheduling of the revote to gain an upper hand in the April parliamentary elections.

Observers said that while the revote could take place as early as the next plenary session scheduled for Tuesday, the main opposition party is likely to make efforts to delay it as much as possible.

The opposition is counting on some of the People Power Party lawmakers who were recently snubbed by its leadership to run in the next round of elections to take sides with them in the revote, the observers said.

“The Democratic Party is currently counting on the ruling People Power Party members that were turned down in their requests to run in the upcoming elections to take sides with them in the revote,” Choi Chang-ryul, a professor of political science at Yongin University, said in a Sunday interview with YTN.

Choi’s remark echoes the words of People Power Party floor leader Yun Jae-ok expressed Friday on the main opposition party’s ongoing efforts to delay the revote.

“It’s a dark attempt (by the main opposition party,) which counts on votes by ruling party lawmakers who could (side with them) during the election candidate selection process,” Yun said.

He claimed that the revote must take place during Tuesday’s plenary meeting to “stop political turmoil and halt the oppression by the opposition party.”

Under the current law, the National Assembly can override a presidential veto in a revote with a two-thirds majority. If a bill that has been vetoed fails to meet that higher bar in the revote, it becomes completely scrapped.

The law, however, does not specify a deadline for the revote.

At the moment, the main opposition party needs a total of 199 lawmakers to vote in favor of the vetoed bills. Of the current 298-member National Assembly, the Democratic Party holds the majority — 167 seats. Including support from other minor opposition parties, they have around 180 votes. The opposition would need 19 more votes from the ruling party for the bill to pass in the revote. The ruling People Power Party, which holds 112 seats, boycotted the previous voting session for the two bills.

National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, who has the authority to schedule the revote, is expected to decide on the timing of the event upon assessing the situation.

Meanwhile, a survey jointly released by Gallup Korea and Joongang Ilbo on Jan. 1, showed that 65 percent of Koreans believed that Yoon should not veto the investigation bill into the first lady. Some 25 percent said they would support Yoon’s veto, while 10 percent refused to answer. The survey involved 1,017 Korean nationals aged 18 or older.

On Friday, Yoon exercised his veto power to strike down the two bills, in which one looks into allegations that his wife may have orchestrated the price manipulation of local BMW distributor Deutsch Motors in the early 2010s, before they were married.

The other is aimed at speeding up the investigation into a bribery case concerning a high-profile land corruption scandal in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

The two bills were passed by the opposition-led National Assembly in December last year.

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