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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Aug. 23)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:57 August 23, 2022

Welcome the consultative body

After a meeting between President Yoon Suk-yeol and leaders of the National Assembly last week, a move aimed at establishing a tripartite consultative body among the government, the People Power Party (PPP) and the Democratic Party (DP), is gaining traction. President Yoon reportedly welcomed a proposal from National Assembly speaker Kim Jin-pyo that the leadership of each party — including floor leaders and standing committee chairs — discuss contentious bills and hammer out conclusions. Yoon counter-proposed that government ministers also be included in the consultative body.

Following the extreme confrontation between the PPP and DP in the March 9 presidential election, the spirit of debate and negotiation has vanished from the political stage. As speaker Kim pointed out, both camps were bent on consolidating their party lines. If such a political standoff continues in the DP-dominated legislature, the Yoon administration cannot do anything. The government and the two rival parties must cooperate to improve the lives of the people after the pandemic and the Ukraine war.

In a noteworthy step, the government has decided to tighten the security of former president Moon Jae-in's post-retirement residence in Yangsan. Some protestors allegedly threatened the family of the former president with fake pistols or knives. After listening to the speaker's recommendation, the president ordered his aides to go to Yangsan to check what's going on. We hope his instruction will mark the beginning of cooperation with the opposition.

President Yoon also must find effective ways to prevent controversy if he really wants to lift his plunging approval rating. He must not allow any persons with connections to his family to work in the presidential office or get involved in works for them. What is needed now is a special inspector in charge of overseeing any illegitimate acts by his wife and other relatives, as demanded by the DP. At the same time, Yoon must fill the vacant seats of education minister and health and welfare minister with qualified people from a bigger talent pool after thoroughly screening their morality.

As Yoon's chief of staff vowed to accept a decision by the National Assembly, lawmakers must recommend three candidates for presidential inspector immediately. Rep. Joo Ho-young, interim chief of the PPP, insisted on appointing an inspector in return for the establishment of a foundation for North Korea human rights which has been put on hold for six years. But Joo's argument is not right as the two are totally separate issues. If the PPP respects public sentiment, it should have appointed the special inspector before the DP demanded.
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