Lazy lawmakersThe number of National Assembly seats is about to exceed 300 for the first time, according to a bill planned by a committee for setting electoral districts.
The number of district representatives is currently 243, but the population has grown, so the number will increase by two to four for each district, while the number of proportional representatives, 56, will remain the same.
In the 16th National Assembly, the number of lawmakers was 273 and in the 17th National Assembly, the number was increased to 299. That number is about to increase even more.
Some might say a small increase in the number of lawmakers is no big deal.
But the president-elect is advocating smaller government and increased efficiency, so if the number exceeds the psychological barrier of 300, it seems the National Assembly is running against current trends by moving toward excess.
If the National Assembly has been productive and lawmakers have been hard-working, there would have been no resistance to the increase.
But the Korean legislature is underdeveloped compared to other sectors in the country.
Korean lawmakers in general are not diligent. In many cases only a small number of lawmakers attend meetings.
On Feb. 2, the committee for reunification, foreign affairs and trade planned to discuss for the first time National Assembly approval of the free trade agreement with the United States.
But only six out of the 26 committee members attended and the meeting was canceled.
Pension reforms are also in a stalemate. Most lawmakers neglect urgent issues, but are busy making sure that their districts get bigger budgets.
Compare this to the British Parliament, where lawmakers debate in a crammed room. The conference room at the Korean National Assembly has large desks and chairs, but they are often unoccupied.
If the number of district representatives must increase, the number of proportional representatives must also decrease.
The number of representatives in rural areas can be lowered because the number of residents there is decreasing.
To realize this goal without increasing the number of lawmakers, the number of lawmakers in urban areas should stay the same, and the number of lawmakers in rural areas should be lowered.