The Korea Herald


Bitter clashes expected at final Assembly audit before election

By Kim Arin

Published : Oct. 9, 2023 - 17:40

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The National Assembly’s interior committee on Monday prepares for an audit session slated for the next day. (Yonhap) The National Assembly’s interior committee on Monday prepares for an audit session slated for the next day. (Yonhap)

The National Assembly will begin the final audit before next year's legislative general election from Tuesday, with the ruling and opposition parties gearing up for a push to win over voters.

The general election in April next year will decide if the Yoon Suk Yeol administration will have the support of a ruling People Power Party-controlled Assembly. The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea currently holds a substantial majority in the Assembly and has used it to put the brakes on several of Yoon's policy ambitions.

At this year’s audit, defending elections from cyberattacks is anticipated to emerge as a key wedge issue.

The National Election Commission, which oversees the country’s election procedures, is accused by the ruling party of failing to make sufficient efforts to protect the state election service against cyberattacks.

According to a report submitted to the Assembly in May, out of the eight known hacking attacks alerted to the election service in the last two years, seven were believed to have been by North Korean hackers.

After the security risks became known, the National Intelligence Service conducted an inspection into the election service for 10 weeks from July, the results of which are to be announced in detail Tuesday.

The foreign affairs committee is expected to continue to spar over Japan’s release of treated wastewater from a tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant in Fukushima.

The Democratic Party accuses the Yoon administration of “pro-Japan bias” and says it has not done enough to stop the Japanese government from releasing the water, which it says may have harmful consequences for the environment. The People Power Party says the water is being discharged in line with International Atomic Energy Agency standards.

The death of a Marine, who was swept away during a search and rescue operation during heavy rain in July, will be dealt with in-depth by the National Defense Committee. The Democratic Party has raised allegations that the government interrupted the investigation into the Marine’s death, which previous defense chief Lee Jong-sup resigned over.

Democratic Party members of the land and transport committee have warned they would be revisiting allegations surrounding first lady Kim Keon Hee and her family. The Democratic Party alleges that the permit for construction of an expressway was tweaked to bypass the first lady’s property as a favor.

Parties agreed to refrain from summoning business figures as witnesses over concerns about the economy.

“The business environment is already challenged by the global recession,” the ruling party’s Floor Leader Rep. Yun Jae-ok said. “The National Assembly shouldn’t be placing unnecessary burdens on corporations that are driving job growth and sustaining the economy. The parties have reached an understanding that witness summons are to be issued reasonably.”

Witnesses selected by the Assembly can refuse to cooperate or respond to summons under certain conditions such as ill health. Additional witnesses may be called in by parties until the last day of the audit on Oct. 27.