“Constitutional amendment to relocate South Korea’s capital to Sejong would resolve the issue of administrative capital,” Democratic Party of Korea Chairman Lee Hae-chan said on his visit to Sejong on Friday. The remark signifies that the ruling party is willing to revise constitution came after its Floor Leader Kim Tae-nyeon abruptly brought up the administrative capital issue in a negotiation body speech on Monday.
Political pundits said relocation would not be easy without constitutional revision when Kim suggested it, pointing out that the Constitutional Court had ruled capital relocation was unconstitutional based on the customary constitution back in 2004. By this time, the majority of the ruling party seemed to believe that bipartisan agreement on legislation would quiet the controversy over unconstitutionality. But Lee took a step further and mentioned the possibility of constitutional amendment.
A referendum for constitutional amendment requires a presidential bill for constitutional amendment or an agreement of two-thirds of ballots in a floor vote in the National Assembly. Lee’s remark seems to be based on his confidence that the ruling party have seats closed to two-thirds in the Assembly after it had a landslide victory in the general elections on April 15.
“We need to take the procedure with newly appointed constitutional justices,” said Lee. “We could realize our citizens’ aspirations with new justices and procedures.” Currently, six out of nine justices were appointed by President Moon Jae-in and Chief Justice Kim Myeong-soo of the Supreme Court or recommended by the ruling party, which is why Lee believes that the ruling party could draw the result it wants.
His remark on constitutional amendment and newly appointed constitutional justices is rather arrogant as it shows his attitude towards constitution. This attitude is even riskier considering that he implicitly believes the ruling party could get its own way because it has seized the control of the legislature, the administration and the judiciary.
Moreover, it seems that the ruling party leader wants to create conflicts between Seoul and other cities, judging from his comment that Seoul is a scurrilous city. There would be no future for a politician who engages in politics of disunion and arrogance, being overly confident in his party’s previous victory.