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Breaking the ice

July 15,2017
The National Assembly has stayed crippled. The pending agenda items — government proposals for an extra budget, administrative reorganization and confirmations on senior public posts — have hung in the air due to a legislative boycott by three opposition parties. House speaker Chung Sye-kyun told President Moon Jae-in that “bipartisanship is won through the act of yielding” and advised the government and ruling party to make an overture to break the legislative impasse.

President Moon took the advice. He sent his chief of staff Im Jong-seok to the People’s Party to relay his regrets for the harsh comments made by the ruling Democratic Party (DP) Chair Choo Mi-ae.

Cho Dae-yop, a nominee for labor minister contested by the opposition, withdrew himself. The DP fell out with the supportive People’s Party because Choo lashed out at the smaller party without any constraint. Im apologized on behalf of the ruling party head. He promised that the Blue House and ruling powers had no intention of getting involved in the prosecution probe on the foul trick carried out by former members of the People’s Party to smear Moon’s campaign for the last presidential election.

The People’s Party softened its hard position on DP Chair Choo and agreed to return to the legislative review of the proposal on an extra budget. Labor minister nominee Cho also declared that he was bowing out in order to help break the stalemate. President Moon nevertheless discreetly called another controversial nominee, Song Young-moo, to the presidential office Thursday and appointed him as defense minister, although he failed to get a legislative endorsement.

Still, the Blue House should be credited for attempting a breakthrough. It partly eased concerns about its bulldozing ways backed by the solid popularity of the president. It demonstrated that it is capable of conceding. The president also showed openness by hearing out ruling party floor leader Woo Won-shik when he advised the president to reconsider some of the controversial appointments. The floor leader’s act contrasts with the trouble-making party chief. Now it is the opposition’s turn to make concessions to put the National Assembly back on track.