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Summit snub rankles opposition

Lawmakers outside Democratic Party were not invited to banquet
May 03,2018
South Korea’s opposition parties are fuming over their exclusion from the guest list of a dinner that followed last Friday’s inter-Korean summit, sending relations with the ruling party to a new low.

The Blue House did not invite a single member from outside the Democratic Party, except for Rep. Park Jie-won of the left-leaning Party for Democracy and Peace, providing conservative hawks with fresh fodder to criticize the declaration that President Moon Jae-in signed with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

There were 32 people from the South Korean side and 26 North Koreans at the banquet. The celebratory dinner followed a day of historic talks between Moon and Kim that concluded with the Panmunjom Declaration, an agreement for both sides to end decades of hostility.

Choo Mi-ae, chairwoman of the Democratic Party, and Woo Won-sik, the party’s floor leader, were invited to the banquet other than Park.

Rep. Park Joo-sun, a leader of the center-right Bareunmirae Party who supported the Panmunjom Declaration, denounced the Moon administration on Tuesday for not inviting any lawmaker outside the Democratic Party to the event.

Lee Jeong-mi, chairwoman of the left-leaning Justice Party, told Cho Myoung-gyon, the unification minister, that she hoped the Moon administration would provide ways for all five political parties to cooperate and cited the Democratic-exclusive banquet as a bad example.

Cho was visiting the National Assembly on Tuesday to brief lawmakers on the summit’s results.

Rep. Kim Sung-tae, floor leader of the largest opposition party, the Liberty Korea Party, criticized the Blue House for placing a “limit” to its invitations.

An official from the Blue House said the guest list was “partially purposed to reduce any variables” because the administration couldn’t be “all too positive about the results of the summit” when it was compiling it, adding that the presidential office would positively review inviting opposition lawmakers during future banquets “after the North Korean nuclear crisis gets resolved following the North Korea-United States summit.”

The Liberty Korea Party, which maintains a hawkish stance on the North, is vehemently opposed to Moon’s proposal of ratifying the Panmunjom Declaration in the National Assembly, a process that would make it legally binding and prevent future administrations from backpedaling on the agreement.

The Democratic Party has a good chance of ratifying the declaration if it can sway lawmakers in minor parties, but the Liberty Korea Party’s stark disapproval could sabotage efforts for bipartisan support.

BY AHN HYO-SUNG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]