A member of the business circles complained heavily about the National Assembly members’ way of working. He said that the National Assembly members are only focused on winning votes ahead of the general elections in April next year and that it was doubtful whether they were willing to grow innovative industries directly related to industrial competitiveness.
A case in point is a bill on treatments or seed development using the genetic scissors technology, which cuts or removes genome sequence. While other countries are pursuing a bio revolution by utilizing genetic scissors, including the U.K. government approving a law on disease treatment using the technology on Thursday (local time), the commercialization of the technology is prohibited in South Korea. In July, the government proposed a bill on easing partial regulations, such as hazard assessments for genetically modified foods. However, it is still pending at the standing committee of the National Assembly.
In South Korea, the crops utilizing the genetic scissors technology are considered genetically modified organisms, which incurs strong opposition from civic groups. During a recent standing committee meeting of the National Assembly, a member of the opposition party expressed concerns, such as opposition from anti-GMO civic groups, increasing import of GMOs, and disturbances to the ecosystem. The meeting ended by asking civic and environmental groups to submit statements on their positions. While the bill is waiting to be passed by the National Assembly, South Korean genetic scissors companies, such as ToolGen, which received a GMO exemption from the USDA for its reduced-browning potatoes, and Optipharm, which transplanted a pig’s kidney to a monkey and achieved a survival record of 221 days, are being held down.
The Parking Lot Act revision bill, which allows car-sharing companies to secure parking spaces in public parking lots, has been pending for over a year. It is believed to benefit certain companies, including SOCAR, unfairly. This goes against the global trend where countries such as the U.S., Australia, and the Netherlands support car-sharing companies to secure parking spaces to promote mobile streaming, which refers to consumers’ use of cars only when needed, for public purposes, such as easing urban traffic jam and reducing carbon emissions.
The bill on metaverse promotion, which intends to support the rapidly growing metaverse industry, is the same. While the bill is proposed to the standing committee of the National Assembly, the standing committee is having non-critical discussions, such as whether the term, ‘metaverse,’ can be utilized as a common noun when it was first introduced in a novel and used by a U.S. company, whether it is possible to use a Korean term instead in the name of the law, and whether virtual assets will become a mean of speculation as in the case of cryptocurrencies, rather than how to nurture the metaverse industry.
According to The Dong-A Ilbo’s analysis of 146 regulation reform bills, only six were passed by the National Assembly. While the government claims it will reform ‘killer regulations,’ the bills are stuck in the National Assembly, where regulation reform begins. It contrasts with the government making multiple development pledges to earn votes, such as including Gimpo in Seoul and accelerating new city reconstruction projects, ahead of the general elections in April. As regulation reform for innovative industries is desperately needed to address the low-growth trend of the South Korean economy, the National Assembly should not hold down their growth. There are only about 15 days left before the last regular session of the 21st National Assembly, which ends on December 9.
You-Young Kim email@example.com