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Confirmation hearing for Lee Nak-yon set next week

May 16,2017
The National Assembly will hold a confirmation hearing for Prime Minister-nominee Lee Nak-yon on May 24 and 25 and vote on the nomination on May 31.

National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and floor leaders of the four major political parties held a meeting on Monday and agreed to the arrangement. A confirmation committee of 13 lawmakers will be formed to scrutinize Lee. The Democratic Party (DP) and the Liberty Korea Party will each send five lawmakers, while the People’s Party will assign two and the Bareun Party one. The DP will head the committee.

President Moon Jae-in nominated last week Lee, governor of South Jeolla, as his first prime minister. The appointment was based on Moon’s decision to promote national unity by ending the regional rivalry between Yeongnam and Honam, or southeastern and southwestern Korea. Moon said he expects Lee to serve as a signal flare of cooperative politics and administration and balanced appointments.

The National Assembly also scheduled an extra legislative session from May 29 till June 27. Plenary sessions are scheduled for May 29 and 31, and the voting on Lee’s nomination will take place on May 31.

Because he was elected in a snap election, necessitated by the impeachment and removal of former President Park Geun-hye, Moon’s five-year presidential term has started with no transition period. Securing the National Assembly’s endorsement of Lee as the new prime minister is an important step for Moon to form a cabinet, as the prime minister has the right to recommend the minister candidates, although it has long been exercised as a formality.

Moon, however, may not wait until the end of this month to appoint ministers.

A senior Blue House official said Economic Deputy Prime Minister Yoo Il-ho, a holdover from the previous administration and an acting prime minister, may be requested to exercise the authority to recommend minister candidates in order to complete the formality.

“Moon met with Yoo on Wednesday,” he said. “The president told Yoo that he may be asked to exercise the nomination right if necessary.”

The confirmation process will also be the first test of Moon’s cooperative politics as his party does not have the majority. As of now, the 300-seat legislature has 299 members and the DP has 120 lawmakers. The People’s Party, whose stronghold is the Honam region, has 40 lawmakers.

The conservative Liberty Korea Party, largely supported in Yeongnam, has vowed to scrutinize Lee thoroughly, particularly his views on North Korea and national security policies. The party currently controls 107 seats in the legislature.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]