Democrats storm out of Assembly in frustration

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Democrats storm out of Assembly in frustration

The ruling and opposition parties clashed yesterday over who was more responsible for the scuffle at the National Assembly a day earlier between Kang Ki-jung, a lawmaker with the opposition Democratic Party, and a presidential security agent.

It led to an adjournment just an hour after a five-day question-and-answer session on the government kicked off, with all Democratic Party lawmakers walking out of the venue en masse. The lawmakers returned two hours later.

Leaders of the two parties also maintained their stance on launching a special investigation into the National Intelligence Service’s alleged smear campaign against opposition candidate Moon Jae-in ahead of last year’s presidential election.

“We have reached the conclusion that a special investigation into the NIS is entirely inappropriate,” said Saenuri Party Chairman Hwang Woo-yea.

DP Chairman Kim Han-gill countered, arguing that “a special probe into the spy agency and a special committee within the National Assembly to reform [the nation’s top spy agency] is not an option, but a must, for the sake of righting democracy.”

After Park delivered her address on Monday, the Saenuri Party agreed to set up a special committee to reform the NIS. Democrats, however, claimed the special committee is meaningless without a special probe.

The inter-party confrontation over the special probe is expected to become a decisive element for gauging how successful the 100-day regular session of the National Assembly will turn out to be. Less than four weeks of the period is left now.

Meanwhile, the feud that caused the adjournment was sparked as ruling party Representative Lee Woo-hyun condemned Democrat Kang for using violence to deal with the government’s political affairs.

According to the Blue House on Monday, Kang demanded a presidential security agent remove three Blue House buses parked in front of the Assembly building. After Kang kicked the bus, the agent caught him by the back of his coat, and the lawmaker counterattacked by hitting the agent’s face with his head.

“Kang has a history of assaulting Representative Kim Sung-hoi [of the Grand National Party, a former entity of the Saenuri Party] in 2010 at the National Assembly. Who began the case in the first place?” Lee said.

Opposition lawmakers raised their voices in unison against his remarks, but Lee continued. That was when DP lawmakers made their exit.

Democrats later submitted a proposal to fire Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, NIS chief Nam Jae-joon and Park Sung-choon, the minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.

However, the possibility of its passage is slim. The proposal needs to be voted on by more than half of all lawmakers, and it is automatically destroyed unless it is put to a vote within 72 hours from submission.


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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