South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul Engages in First Diplomatic Dialogue with China’s Wang YiDemocratic Party to Retain Proportional Representation System for April Elections

SEOUL — In a significant diplomatic engagement, South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul conducted his inaugural phone conversation with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday. The dialogue, marking the first of its kind since Cho's assumption of office, was aimed at deliberating over North Korea alongside other critical bilateral issues, according to Cho's office.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the discussion encompassed a variety of topics including the regional security landscape and bilateral concerns such as supply chains. Wang Yi seized the opportunity to invite Cho to Beijing, a gesture reflecting China's desire for closer cooperation and enhanced bilateral relations moving forward. Cho expressed gratitude for the invitation and concurred on arranging his visit through diplomatic avenues at a mutually convenient time.

The ministers exchanged views on the regional security situation, agreeing on the necessity of bolstering "strategic exchanges and communication" across different levels. Cho emphasized the importance of minimizing conflict factors and fostering trust between South Korea and China. He also advocated for expedited preparations for the upcoming trilateral summit involving South Korea, China, and Japan, a topic agreed upon during a foreign ministers' meeting last November.

Addressing concerns related to North Korea, Cho highlighted the country's provocative actions and expanding military collaboration with Russia, alongside its continued development of nuclear capabilities and missile technology in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. He appealed to China to assume a "constructive role" in encouraging North Korea towards dialogue and denuclearization. Additionally, Cho addressed the issue of North Korean defectors in China, urging the Chinese government to ensure these individuals can relocate to a country of their choice.

This dialogue represents the fifth such interaction between Cho and his international counterparts since taking office, following discussions with officials from the United States, Japan, Australia, and Vietnam. The engagement underscores the importance of Sino-South Korean relations in addressing regional security challenges and fostering diplomatic cooperation.

SEOUL — The Democratic Party (DP), South Korea's main opposition party, resolved on Tuesday to uphold the existing method for allocating proportional representation seats in the forthcoming April 10 parliamentary elections. This decision has sparked controversy, with critics accusing the party of seeking to manipulate the electoral system to its advantage.

According to Yonhap News Agency, DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung made the choice to stick with the current semi-mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system, despite it being under fire for allowing major parties to create "satellite parties" to gain extra seats among the National Assembly's 47 proportional representation positions. The DP, which currently commands a majority in the 300-seat Assembly, had delegated the decision-making authority to Lee. The MMP system was initially adopted in the 2020 general elections to better represent minor parties, but has since been criticized for being exploited by larger parties to secure additional seats through the establishment of satellite parties.

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) and other smaller parties have urged a return to the parallel representative system, which involves separate ballots for constituency and party votes. The PPP has particularly sharpened its critique following the DP's recent decision, arguing that electoral system reforms should be the result of bipartisan consensus, not the prerogative of a single party or individual. Rep. Yang Hyang-ja, aligning with the PPP's stance after merging her party with former PPP leader Lee Jun-seok, also condemned the DP's decision as a maneuver to abuse the electoral system once again.

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