The Korea Herald


Rival parties set to clash over Yoon’s new Cabinet picks

2024 budget plan still in limbo amid heightening tension in National Assembly

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Dec. 17, 2023 - 15:24

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National Assembly (Yonhap) National Assembly (Yonhap)

The rival parties are expected to lock horns this week over the scheduled confirmation hearings for President Yoon Suk Yeol’s latest Cabinet nominations, scheduled to kick-off Monday.

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea lawmakers have hinted they plan to scrutinize intensively the six ministerial-level nominees handpicked by Yoon earlier this month. The ruling People Power Party are likely to defend the nominees and push forward with the nominations.

“In particular, the nominees for ministers handling economic affairs should be replaced considering the recent economic downturn and the crisis involving people are going through regarding their livelihoods,” the Democratic Party floor leader Hong Ihk-pyo recently said.

The nominees that are subjected to the upcoming weeklong parliamentary hearing are: Choi Sang-mok, former senior presidential secretary for economic affairs and who was named the new finance minister and deputy prime minister; Kang Jung-ai, the nominee for patriots and veterans affairs minister; Song Mi-ryung, the nominee for minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs; Park Sang-woo, the nominee for minister of land, infrastructure and transport; Kang Do-hyung, the nominee for oceans and fisheries minister; and Oh Young-ju, the nominee for SMEs and startups minister.

Democratic Party lawmakers have been voicing especially strong objections against the nomination of Kang Do-hyung, who was tapped to lead the oceans and fisheries minister, citing recent reports revealing the nominee’s conviction for driving under the influence in 2004. Kang also paid a 300,000 won ($230.06) fine in 1999 for “committing an act of violence.” The details behind the 1999 incident are as yet unknown.

“We cast doubt on the current administration’s screening of the ministerial-level nominees due to (Kang’s) record of violence and DUI,” Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Kim Du-kwan said in a statement released on Dec. 8.

“The issues will be thoroughly addressed in the upcoming confirmation hearing,” Kim added.

On top of the hearing, the first of two remaining extra plenary meetings is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. The rival parties have said they plan to address next year’s budget plan, which parliament failed to handle by the Dec. 2 legal deadline.

The Democratic Party has been pushing to allocate more of the budget to certain projects, including additional cash subsidies, through its revision plan. Meanwhile, the ruling party has been criticizing the main opposition’s requests as “populist proposals.”