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LKP calls Moon’s ratification unconstitutional

Oct 26,2018
The opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Thursday slammed the Blue House for saying that an inter-Korean military agreement signed last month didn’t require parliamentary approval because North Korea was not a foreign state.

The LKP said such a position was a blatant contradiction and argued South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “unilateral ratification” of the Pyongyang Declaration and the military agreement signed in the North Korean capital on Sept. 19 was “unconstitutional.”

“According to the Blue House’s argument [that North Korea was not a foreign state], agreements with the North are not constituted as treaties. Then what is the nature of a joint summit declaration?” snapped Kim Sung-tae, the floor leader of the LKP, during a party leadership meeting at the National Assembly.

“It is total nonsense to ratify the Pyongyang Declaration unilaterally [without parliamentary approval] while submitting the Panmunjom Declaration to the Assembly for ratification,” continued the floor leader.

Rep. Yoo Ki-june of the LKP also weighed in saying, “President Moon wrote in his memoir that inter-Korean agreements should be perceived as state-to-state treaties.” The lawmaker said the administration’s claim that the inter-Korean military agreement, ratified unilaterally by Moon Tuesday, was not subject to parliamentary approval and therefore a “self-contradiction.”

The conservative party, which champions a hard-line stance on North Korea, also said it would be seeking the resignation of Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon over the ratification brouhaha.

The LKP’s condemnation stemmed from a remark made by Kim Eui-kyeom, Blue House spokesman, Wednesday that the South-North military agreement, formally entitled “Agreement on the Implementation of the Historic Panmunjom Declaration in the Military Domain” was not subject to parliamentary approval because North Korea is not a foreign state in a strict legal interpretation, citing the Constitution and domestic laws governing inter-Korean relations.

Kim’s statement on Wednesday was made in defense of Moon’s ratification of the Pyongyang Declaration and the military agreement Tuesday despite opposition demand that they first be assessed by the National Assembly.

The Constitution, which was last amended in 1987, stipulates the “National Assembly shall have the right to consent to the conclusion and ratification of treaties pertaining to mutual assistance or mutual security” and those “pertaining to any restriction in sovereignty” that carry a “burden to the state or people with an important financial obligation.”

On North Korea, the Constitution stipulates: “The territory of the Republic of Korea shall consist of the Korean peninsula and its adjacent islands.”

In the annex agreement, the two Koreas agreed on various measures to ease tensions along the border such as withdrawing guard posts from the demilitarized zone and setting up a no-fly zone along the border.

Interpreting the Sept. 19 military agreement as treaty, the LKP condemned the president’s unilateral ratification of the two Sept.19 agreements, calling it a “blatant act of disregard of the National Assembly” and “unconstitutional.”

Rebuking the LKP’s criticism, Kim of the Blue House said Wednesday the ratified military agreement was not subject to parliamentary approval, drawing his logic from Article 3 of the Development of the Inter-Korean Relations Act, which stipulates: “Inter-Korean relations are not relations between nations, but special relations established temporarily in the course of pursuing unification.”

The ongoing brawl between the LKP and the Blue House underscores the complicated nature of defining North Korea, whose military South Korea perceived as its main enemy in defense white papers until recently, while at the same time, domestic laws view it as a partner in the course of peaceful unification.

The spokesman said he had made the remark “in the context of the Constitution regarding the status of North Korea.

“While the Constitution and the National Security Law does not perceive South-North relations as a state-to-state relationship, international laws and the United Nations recognize the North as a state. How to recognize the North is not a simple matter in the legal context,” he said.

Moon’s ratification Tuesday came as the fate of the Panmunjom Declaration, the product of his first summit with Kim in April, hangs in the balance.

The presidential office submitted the April 27 agreement to the National Assembly for approval because its implementation involves government financing for reconnecting the railways and roads between the two Koreas. The opposition refuses, saying the government has not provided a full cost estimate for the railway project.


BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]