Pyongyang Declaration formally promulgatedAn inter-Korean agreement reached last month in Pyongyang that promised to halt “all hostile acts” between the South and North Korea officially took effect Monday amid simmering discontent from the opposition, especially the Liberty Korea Party.
The Pyongyang Declaration, signed between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sept. 19 in the North Korean capital, was published in the government’s official gazette Monday, completing the process of promulgating an agreement that Moon touted as a virtual end-of-war declaration between the two Koreas.
But Moon did not put it up for parliamentary consent, and in protest, the major opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) filed an injunction with the Constitutional Court hours after the promulgation.
It also requested a separate injunction for an inter-Korean military agreement also signed on Sept. 19.
The administration announced in the gazette that it unilaterally promulgated the Pyongyang Declaration since its implementation would “not impose a significant financial burden on the people and the state.”
It also said the Pyongyang Declaration intended to “elevate the inter-Korean relations to a new level.”
The promulgation of the Sept. 19 agreement came six days after Moon unilaterally ratified it along with the inter-Korean military agreement signed as an annex without asking the National Assembly for approval, citing the Blue House’s opinion that the two agreements didn’t require it.
Moon wants to maintain the momentum for improved South-North ties to help the process of denuclearization of North Korea.
The unilateral ratification also reflected Moon’s conclusion that the opposition parties, particularly the Liberty Korea Party, would not be cooperative in approving the Pyongyang Declaration considering that the Panmunjom Declaration, the product of his first summit with North Korean leader Kim on April 27, is still being reviewed by the National Assembly with no sign of the LKP withdrawing its opposition to it.
Moon’s ratification of the Pyongyang Declaration last week came after the Ministry of Government Legislation determined that it was not subject to parliamentary ratification because the Panmunjom Declaration was already being reviewed by the National Assembly for passage.
It viewed the Pyongyang agreement as a follow-up to the April 27 agreement.
In the Sept. 19 agreement, the two Koreas agreed on a wide range of issues from forming a joint military committee to a groundbreaking ceremony for the connection of railways and roads between the two Koreas and ceasing all military hostilities in all domains along the border.
For the inter-Korean military agreement, formally titled “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain,” the authorities ruled it did not need to be approved by the National Assembly since its implementation would not involve taxpayers’ money. Under the Constitution, any treaty that involve government budgets require the Assembly’s consent. In the military agreement, the two Koreas consented to set in place a no-fly zone and halt all military drills along the border effective Nov. 1, among other measures, to ease military tensions.
The military agreement went into effect last Friday when the militaries of the two Koreas held a high-level meeting on the northern side of the border village of Panmunjom and reaffirmed their commitment to carrying out terms of the agreement.
Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the LKP, harshly criticized the promulgation Monday. “The National Assembly is facing an unprecedented existential crisis in which its function is being totally disregarded [by the president],” said Kim during a meeting with his ruling Democratic Party counterpart, Hong Young-pyo. Saying the Pyongyang Declaration “must acquire the Assembly’s consent for ratification,” Kim said Moon was behaving like an “emperor.”
Moon is expected to urge the opposition to approve the April 27 agreement in an address at the National Assembly scheduled for Thursday.
BY KANG JIN-KYU [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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