South Korean President Moon Jae-in asked the National Assembly to submit the confirmation hearing reports on Science and ICT Minister nominee Lim Hye-sook, Oceans and Fisheries Park Minister nominee Joon-young, and Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Minister nominee Noh Hyeong-ouk by Friday. They were judged unfit for ministerial appointments by the opposition party on Tuesday. If the National Assembly does not submit hearing reports by Friday, President Moon can appoint them with his authority as of 12 a.m. on Saturday, which will practically force their appointments.
“President Moon made a request at 2:20 p.m. to the National Assembly to send confirmation hearing reports on the three nominees by Friday,” Park Kyung-mee, the spokesperson of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said on Tuesday. The president made such a request as the National Assembly had not sent hearing reports on the nominees by Monday, which was the original deadline for the reports, due to the opposition party’s refusal to approve confirmation hearing reports. There has been no case so far in the last four years of his presidency, in which an appointment of a nominee was withdrawn or a nominee volunteered to step down after a request for the submission of hearing reports was made. Therefore, it is also predicted that President Moon might push for their appointments as early as Saturday. In December 2019, the president waited only two days after he requested the submission of a hearing report on former Minister of Justice Choo Mi-ae before forcefully completing her appointment the next day as the ruling and opposition parties could not reach an agreement.
If President Moon forces the new appointments again, the number of ministerial-level appointments made without a bipartisan agreement under the current administration will reach 32. However, a member of Cheong Wa Dae said that bipartisan negotiations should be waited and seen until Friday, as the opposition party is connecting decisions on the three nominees with the confirmation of Prime Minister nominee Kim Bu-gyeom.
The ruling and opposition parties sought negotiation to discuss the approval of the prime minister nominee and confirmation hearing reports on the three ministerial nominees but closed no gap. The Democratic Party of Korea suggested holding a regular session of the National Assembly to process the confirmation of the prime minister nominee. “South Korea is going through the national crisis of COVID-19. Another day cannot go by with an empty seat in the prime minister position who is supposed to be in charge of the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters,” said the floor leader of the party Yun Ho-jung, demanding the processing of the prime minister nominee’s confirmation.
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