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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 23)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:57 August 23, 2022

Forging bipartisanship
President Yoon should do more for national unity

President Yoon Suk-yeol has begun to show signs of changing his leadership style in a bid to better reflect public opinion and move toward bipartisanship. This move is drawing positive responses from opposition political parties and the public.

One of the changes Yoon has made recently is his instruction to strengthen security for former President Moon Jae-in. The instruction came Sunday, two days after he accepted a suggestion from National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo during their meeting at the presidential office in Yongsan, central Seoul.

The meeting took place between the president and the new legislative leader ahead of the opening of a regular National Assembly session on Sept. 1. Yoon told Kim that he wants to see his administration and the legislative body cooperate closely to improve the people's livelihoods. He also stressed the need for the Assembly to play a central role in managing state affairs even though the country has a presidential system.

Under Yoon's instruction, the Presidential Security Service banned rallies within 300 meters from his predecessor's home in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province, starting Monday. The ban was good news for Moon who complained that his home had been plagued by raucous loudspeaker demonstrations by right-wing protesters and YouTubers.

The measure marked a shift from Yoon's previous position that rallies around Moon's home should be tolerated as protests around the Yongsan presidential office are allowed under the law. It could also be seen as a move to promote national unity especially when the nation remains divided sharply between conservatives and liberals.

It goes without saying that Yoon desperately needs the opposition's cooperation and support for his administration's major policies. The administration cannot do anything unless the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), which holds 169 seats in the 299-member National Assembly, approves bills proposed by the government and the ruling People Power Party (PPP). For this reason, building a partnership with the DPK and other opposition parties is not an option, but a requirement.

The administration and the PPP should work closely with the opposition parties in order to get legislative approval for next year's government budget bill. President Yoon knows better than anyone else that his push for a series of reforms in education, pension and labor systems cannot produce successful results without cooperation from the opposition.

Another good sign is that Yoon has given a positive response to Speaker Kim's proposal to launch a bipartisan consultative body aimed at discussing major issues. Through the body, if created, the rival parties can deal with matters such as a constitutional revision, an amendment to the election law and more broadly, much-needed political reforms. Yoon and his party should make strenuous efforts to end the ongoing partisan confrontation and forge cooperative ties with the opposition.

Yet, reaching out to the opposition is easier said than done. There are many thorny issues, including the ongoing investigations into alleged wrongdoings by the previous Moon administration. Nevertheless, Yoon must embrace the opposition parties and seek their cooperation in breaking the political deadlock and rebuilding the nation to usher in a better future.
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