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Speaker ‘ashamed’ at parliament's failure to support Panmunjeom Declaration

Outgoing National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun said Tuesday he felt “dreadful and ashamed” at the parliament’s failure to adopt a resolution supporting last month’s inter-Korean summit agreement called the Panmunjeom Declaration.

“I am perplexed beyond words. … Politics should not be self-centered,” Chung said in a CBS radio interview on the last day of his two-year term as the National Assembly speaker.

“Who wouldn’t want the North Korean nuclear problem to be properly dealt with and solved?”

The proposed resolution could not be put to a vote at the National Assembly’s plenary session Monday, as rival parties failed to narrow differences on wording on North Korea’s denuclearization. 

Chung Sye-kyun(Yonhap)
Chung Sye-kyun(Yonhap)

The ruling Democratic Party wanted to stick to the phrase used in the Panmujeom Declaration -- “realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” while the main opposition Liberty Korea Party insisted it should contain “complete, verifiable and irreversible” dismantlement of the North’s nuclear weapons.

President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to seek “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pursue an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, in the declaration signed after their summit on April 27 at the truce village of Panmunjeom.

Regarding an ongoing controversy over whether to maintain lawmakers’ immunity from arrest, Chung said in the interview that he thinks the privilege is no longer necessary.

Chung was negative toward adopting an open ballot system, which some are calling for after the parliament voted down the prosecution’s request for consent to arrest two opposition lawmakers last week.

“Ever since the National Assembly was established 70 years ago, a secret ballot has been the uniform rule for personnel matters,” the outgoing speaker said, adding that an open ballot system might keep legislators from voting according to their conscience on a motion to arrest someone belonging to their own political faction.

As for the parliament’s passage of the motion to impeach former President Park Geun-hye, Chung said, “It is something that should never happen again. I pledged at the time that I would get the Constitution revised.”

By Kim So-hyun (