Korea’s two major parties on Friday failed again to break the gridlock over President-elect Park Geun-hye’s government overhaul plans, casting further gloom over her administration three days before its official launch.
Six negotiators from the ruling Saenuri Party and main opposition Democratic United Parties narrowed their differences on some points but clashed again over an envisioned relocation of broadcasting and telecommunications functions from the Korea Communications Commission to a new mega ministry also in charge of science, technology and nuclear power.
The parliament dealt another blow to the incoming leader, suspending the filing of a report on Prime Minister nominee Chung Hong-won after a tough three-day confirmation hearing.
Lawmakers grilled him over a spate of allegations including his son’s exemption from the mandatory military service and the privileges the former prosecutor enjoyed at a private law firm after his retirement.
The two parties agreed to decide whether to adopt the report on Tuesday, one day after Park’s inauguration.
The meeting on government reorganization was led by Saenuri chairman Hwang Woo-yea and DUP interim leader Moon Hee-sang. The other participants were Saenuri floor leader Lee Hahn-koo and his deputy Kim Ki-hyun and their respective counterparts Park Ki-choon and Woo Won-shik.
“The planned transfer of some KCC affairs remains unsolved and was discussed during today’s negotiations,” Kim told a Saenuri general assembly later on.
Hwang called for an agreement, saying, “no matter what happens we must not kill time today and tomorrow but take a decision before the new government takes off.”
At a meeting of party executives, Moon urged Park to come up with the final wording to pass the bill. “We can’t help with what we obviously know is wrong.”
The breakdown dealt a fresh blow to Park, leaving her a barely complete Cabinet when she is sworn in on Monday.
With most nominees scheduled for confirmation hearings and some facing dim prospects, the incoming president will likely spend the crucial first few weeks with the outgoing team of her predecessor Lee Myung-bak.
In an apparent rush, Park arranged her first meeting with the DUP chief last week also to discuss responses to North Korea’s third nuclear test.
But her repeated pleas for cooperation bore little fruit after talks collapsed Monday for what Hwang called a “grand compromise.”
The ambitious restructuring plans triggered protests across ministries and offices also responsible for foreign policy and trade, education and science, and nuclear energy. They worry that it would damage administrative efficiency, industrial competitiveness and regulatory independence.
On broadcasting and communications, the DUP raised concerns over the journalistic independence of broadcasters, while Saenuri stressed the potential for better policy coordination and synergy with other relevant industries.
Opposition lawmakers also called for a separate office to handle trade affairs rather than the Ministry of Knowledge Economy taking over the division from the Foreign Ministry.
The liberal party has blasted Park for an alleged lack of understanding, intransigent attitude and her insufficiently explained logic of “ministry egotism.”
By Shin Hyon-hee (email@example.com