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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Sept. 12)

2018/09/12 06:59

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Careless invitation

Assembly refuses Moon's abrupt call to join NK trip

Cheong Wa Dae on Monday invited National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang and party leaders to join President Moon Jae-in's Sept.18-20 trip to Pyongyang.

The manner in which it was delivered was highly regrettable. There was not enough consultation with the invitees and the invitation was announced during a press briefing by Moon's chief of staff Im Jong-seok, who heads the committee to prepare for the summit.

"We need the Assembly to be on board if inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation are to be carried out consistently," Im said during a press conference at Cheong Wa Dae Monday. "We are at the moment of a new chapter in inter-Korean relations, and denuclearization is also at a critical juncture. We would cordially like to ask the Assembly to take part in the trip."

   Out of the nine politicians invited by Cheong Wa Dae, only three accepted. The rest, including Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang, refused almost immediately after the invitation was announced. Given his long affiliation with the ruling camp, Moon's refusal shows he felt slighted by Cheong Wa Dae's invitation, particularly when he has repeatedly said he wants to pursue parliamentary exchanges with North Korea separately from the government.

If Cheong Wa Dae really wanted the Assembly to be part of the trip, there should have been close consultation with the relevant parties to convey to them exactly what their role will be. It was careless of the presidential office to invite them in a press conference only days before the trip and expect them to accept. Im said they had not made the necessary coordination with the parties. It shows a lack of respect for the legislative branch and for the opposition parties. Only the leaders of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea and two other parties, the Party for Democracy and Peace and the Justice Party, accepted the invitation.

The invitation came shortly after the Assembly failed to reach an agreement on the ratification of the inter-Korean agreement between President Moon and the North Korean leader during their first summit at Panmunjeom on April 24. The parties agreed to review it after the Moon-Kim summit next week. The invitation could be seen as Cheong Wa Dae pressuring the Assembly to proceed quickly with the ratification. Cheong Wa Dae's rush toward the ratification to jumpstart inter-Korean projects is not very convincing when there has not been visible progress in denuclearization.

(END)

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