SEOUL, Tensions between rival parties mounted Monday as President Moon Jae-in was set to appoint two ministers, including one in charge of North Korea affairs, despite opposition parties' strong objections.
Moon is widely expected to appoint unification minister nominee Kim Yeon-chul and venture minister nominee Park Young-sun later in the day after parliament failed to adopt their confirmation hearing reports Sunday.
The adoption of a hearing report is a procedural step for parliament to express its consent to the president's nomination. Without the report, the president can appoint a nominee after asking the parliament to send it to him by a specific date.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and minor opposition Bareunmirae Party vehemently oppose the nominations, citing an ideological issue and ethical lapses.
Kim is criticized for his pro-North Korea stance and Park, a ruling party lawmaker, is accused of lying under oath during her confirmation hearing.
"If President Moon does not withdraw his nominations for the two, our party will cannot help protesting with a stern resolve, together with the people," LKP chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn said at a meeting with senior party members.
"If Moon presses ahead with the nominations, it indicates that his administration is a self-righteous and arrogant regime that does not allow communication, as it believes it can disregard opposition rejection and public sentiment," he added.
Kim and Park are among seven minister nominees named by President Moon in a Cabinet reshuffle in March.
Two other nominations were derailed previously, with Moon withdrawing one and the other nominee voluntarily stepping down amid public criticism of ethical lapses.
Moon will head to Washington for summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump later this week.
The ruling Democratic Party (DP), meanwhile, denounced the LKP for its political offensive, vowing to take stern action against what it called the LKP's defamation and spreading of false information about the nominees.
"The LKP's attacks on Kim and Park are beyond the toleration limit," DP floor leader Hong Young-pyo said in a meeting with party members.
"We will not tolerate the LKP's move to defame the nominees and spread false facts about them and will take legal action against it to the end," he added.
Last week, the LKP raised suspicion that Park's husband, an attorney working at a U.S. law firm, represented tech giant Samsung Electronics in 13 legal cases by drawing on Park's influence as a lawmaker. Park and Samsung denied allegations as groundless.
The intense partisan tensions herald a tough road ahead during the extra parliamentary session that kicked off Monday for a one-month run.
The rival parties had already clashed over whether to include expenditure on the latest blaze in an eastern province in a proposed extra budget bill.
The DP insists the government should set aside potential spending on supporting recovery from the devastating fire in Gangwon Province in a supplementary budget bill that the government will submit later this month.
But the LKP opposes the move, raising doubts that the government could seek to spend more on job creation with a bigger extra budget ahead of next year's general elections. The party called for the drawing up of a new disaster-related extra budget bill.
Source: Yonhap news Agency