President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday appealed for parliamentary support of his core issues, including an extra budget bill currently pending, in a rare meeting with opposition party leaders.
During a meeting with the heads of four political parties over a luncheon at Cheong Wa Dae, including his ruling Democratic Party of Korea, Moon proposed to leave acrimonies in the past and open a new cooperative dialogue, while pledging not to seek a political vendetta on opponents.
“Even if the parliament does not consent to all (of proposed fiscal spending plans), we will respect that and do what we can do within the allowed scope,” Moon was quoted as saying by officials of the four parties.
“I understand 99 percent of the budget has been already reviewed and hope to see the remaining 1 percent cleared soon,” he said.
Moon’s supplementary budget proposal, amounting to 11.2 trillion won ($9.8 billion), is locked in a parliamentary stalemate, with three of the four opposition parties taking issue with the 8 billion won set aside to hire some 4,500 new government employees.
The three parties -- Liberty Korea Party, Bareun Party and People’s Party -- control 167 seats in the 299-seat parliament.
Present at the meeting were Park Joo-sun of the liberal People’s Party, Lee Hye-hoon of the splinter conservative Bareun Party and Lee Jeong-mi of the progressive Justice Party, along with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s chief Rep. Choo Mi-ae.
Hong Joon-pyo of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party boycotted the meeting and went to volunteer in Cheongju, North Gyeongsang Province which has been hit hard by the recent floods.
During the luncheon, which lasted 50 minutes longer than expected, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the president briefed the party leaders on the outcome of his recent summit diplomacy and also shared opinions on different issues, the presidential spokesperson Park Soo-hyun said.
As the opposition leaders showed concern over Moon’s decision to offer holding inter-Korean military talks and Red-Cross talks on Aug. 1 to resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, the president explained he had notified the related countries beforehand.
“You have shown worries about the North Korean policies, but I have notified the United States and Japan prior. I have also explained the differences between dialogues for denuclearization and for humanitarian causes, which the latter is what we, South Korea will lead on.”
Regarding the previous notification from Washington calling for a meeting to negotiate amendments to the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, Moon reiterated that it is not for a renegotiation, the spokesperson said in a press briefing after the multilateral meeting.
“President Moon clearly expressed that he had confirmed several times during his visit to Washington that the US’ request for a meeting is not for renegotiation,” Park said. “He also stressed that the National Assembly will be included in any related developments.”
On defense issues, Moon said that his administration is taking a more flexible approach to taking wartime operation control from the US, and defended his government’s approach to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system issue.
Since Moon took office, the deployment of the US missile defense system has raised even more controversy, with Cheong Wa Dae revealing a number of irregularities in its deployment in Seongju, South Gyeongsang Province.
Although the government has ruled out the possibility of scrapping the THAAD deployment altogether, a thorough environmental impact study has been launched, prompting pundits to project a year or more delay in full deployment of THAAD.
By Choi He-suk and Jo He-rim (email@example.com)(firstname.lastname@example.org)