Go to contents

There Is No Diplomacy in the 17th National Assembly

Posted November. 05, 2004 22:56,   


Assemblymen’s diplomacy committees, the central axis of assemblymen diplomacy, still have not been organized, even after the passing of five months since the 17th National Assembly launched.

The importance of diplomacy beyond political parties could not be over-emphasized these days, especially after the presidential election in the U.S. However, “undercurrent diplomacy” through party channels is presently missing with the delay in organizing diplomacy committees within the Assembly.

Currently, the Korean National Assembly holds assemblymen diplomacy channels to 81 countries through diplomacy committees or friendship organizations for foreign nations. Examples of such channels include the Korea-Japan Assemblymen Alliance as a separate corporation entity, assemblymen diplomacy committees with the U.S., China, Russia and other European countries, and friendship organizations with Brazil, Singapore, as well as 76 other countries.

However, not one diplomacy committee has been launched among these with the exception of the Korea-Japan Assemblymen Alliance. And even in this case, there were conflicts between the ruling and opposition parties regarding leadership formation, and the formation barely made because of the deadline to hand in the member list to the Japan side in July. Accordingly, the assemblymen diplomacy budget of 3 billion won, secured for the purposes of fueling exchanges with other nations’ assemblies or parliaments, has been largely dormant.

The biggest reason why assemblymen diplomacy committees are having difficulty launching is due to seat fights over who, and from which party, gets to take the chairmanship of the major assemblymen diplomacy committees for the U.S., China, Russia, and Europe. National Assembly Chairman Kim Won-ki has trusted both parties in distributing the chairmanship based on discussions with the Uri Party and GNP floor leaders, diplomacy and trade affairs committee chairman, and other members in July. However, there haven’t been any smooth solutions to the issue so far.

Uri Party Assemblyman Yoo Jae-kun, former Korea-U.S. Assemblymen Diplomacy Committee Chairman for the 16th National Assembly, said with regret, “The assemblymen diplomacy plays an important role in creating a quiet solution to conflicts in governmental diplomacy. It solves conflicts by political personalities’ contacting each other to create a communication channel.”

The absence of assemblymen diplomacy was pointed out as a huge factor in the inability to convey Korean perspectives to the American representatives or congressmen through behind-the-scene diplomacy at the assembly level regarding recent concerns over the Korea-U.S. relationship.

Lee Byung-gil, international department director at the National Assembly Secretariat, said, “Diverse assemblymen diplomacy channels can reveal their true potentials when the regime changes its hand.”

Jong-Koo Yoon jkmas@donga.com