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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 25)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:09 October 25, 2018

Row over ratification
Bipartisan support key to improving inter-Korean ties

President Moon Jae-in has ratified a summit agreement and a separate military agreement reached with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Sept. 19. The ratification was made Tuesday immediately after the Cabinet approved the two accords.

As Moon pointed out, the ratification is crucial to promoting inter-Korean relations and facilitating the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It is also important to give legally binding force to such agreements, considering that previous summit agreements in 2000 and 2007 were virtually scrapped due to the changing of government from liberal to conservative.

In this regard, Moon's ratification of the Pyongyang Declaration and the military agreement reflects his determination to see them take effect with no further delay and prevent a future government from revoking them. It also sends a clear and strong message to speed up the peace process on the peninsula.

Despite such good intentions, the ratification is touching off a controversy because the opposition parties have tenaciously raised the issue of the procedural legitimacy of the President's action. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) is taking the lead in accusing Moon of failing to seek consent from the National Assembly. The minor opposition Bareunmirae Party has joined the LKP in the blame game.

To avoid the controversy, the Ministry of Government Legislation concluded that obtaining National Assembly consent for the two agreements was unnecessary because a broader inter-Korean agreement, the Panmunjeom Declaration reached at the first Moon-Kim summit in April, is undergoing the Assembly ratification process.

But the conclusion is far from sufficient to silence the strong voices of the opposition against the ratification. Rather it has provided ample ammunition for the opposition parties to lay the blame on Moon and declare his actions null and void. Members of the LKP and Bareunmirae have threatened to take legal action to nullify the ratification which they claim violates the Constitution.

Of course, the opposition's move has many reasons to be seen as a political offensive against Moon and his liberal government to discredit his efforts for inter-Korean detente and put the brakes on his rush to resume economic cooperation with the North. But it would be better for Moon to reach out to the opposition and seek their cooperation in pushing for inter-Korean reconciliation, coexistence, peace and prosperity.

No one can overemphasize the importance of bipartisan support for inter-Korean relations. However, the Moon administration and the governing Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) have to admit that they have not exhausted their efforts to form bipartisanship for better ties with the North.

It is also true that the conservative opposition parties have been against Moon's peace initiatives only for the sake of it. Now they must change their hard-line stance and actively participate in discussing how to achieve the North's denuclearization and establish a lasting peace regime on the peninsula.

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