Na to lead foreign affairs committee

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Na to lead foreign affairs committee

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Representative Na Kyung-won exchanges greetings with opposition lawmakers on Thursday at the National Assembly. [NEWSIS]

Na Kyung-won, a high-profile Saenuri Party lawmaker, was elected Thursday as the first female head of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee.

The 51-year-old, a former judge and Seoul mayoral candidate, was elected to lead the parliamentary committee, winning 176 votes out of 208.

She replaces the Saenuri’s Yoo Ki-june, who was recently nominated as the new oceans and fisheries minister.

“Our diplomacy is not insignificant,” Na said in her speech after her victory, defending the role of foreign affairs policy, which sometimes is criticized as ineffectual.

“Through communication and cooperation between the government and the National Assembly, we will resolve pending issues,” she said. “I will work toward a National Assembly that will take the lead in efforts to resolve inter-Korean relations and lay the foundation for unification.”

To reporters afterward, Na said, “The ruling and opposition parties must work together to bring a conclusion to the North Korean human rights law that has been postponed for 10 years.”

Na, a Seoul National University graduate with a degree in law, launched her political career in 2002 as a special aide to Lee Hoi-chang.

She lost in the heavily contested 2011 Seoul mayoral by-elections against current Mayor Park Won-soon.

Na, who represents Dongjak B District in southern Seoul, is the sole three-term female lawmaker within the ruling party, and serves on the foreign affairs committee and special committee on budget and accounts.

She chaired the organizing committee for the Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2013, and later that year was elected as a member of the governing board for the International Paralympic Committee.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]



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