A special parliamentary committee on Constitutional amendment has been in the works since early last year -- but there's been more tit for tat between rival parties than progress.
The ruling Democratic Party of Korea is firm on its stance to hold a referendum in tandem with local elections in June.
The party has vowed to craft a proposal by the end of this month, which it will use as a basis for negotiations with the opposition.
Park Ju-min -- a ruling party lawmaker and part of the special parliamentary committee -- says enough talks have been held on the issue, and there's no problem holding the vote in June.
"We've already figured out the disputed areas and each of the parties' stances on the matter. A deal needs to be made no later than mid-March to have it ready for a public vote by June. Now the question is, will we hold talks on the amendment, even without an agreement on power structure, or without that part, will the opposition not engage in talks at all? Also, holding the vote in tandem with local elections reduces the cost burden. But if the opposition is eager to hold the referendum on a different date, there should be no problem carrying out two revisions -- it's one way we could handle the dispute."
Pressure was renewed after President Moon Jae-in's New Year's press conference.
He warned that the government will prepare a proposal of its own -- should rival parties fail to reach a compromise.
(Jan. 10, 2018)
"There's a big divide on how to amend the power structure. If no agreement is reached there, we could revise that section at a later date."
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But, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party says *that is out of the question.
It claims the topic resurfaced in the first place because of the power abuse scandal last year -- as people acknowledged that the president holds too much authority.
Opposition lawmaker Ahn Sang-soo, also a member of the committee, says another issue is that the government has more urgent tasks to deal with.
"People have to think wisely as the local election is about selecting someone that will take care of people's livelihoods over the next few years. We have the Olympics coming up. North Korea's provocations are a lingering threat. We have domestic problems, including crises over cryptocurrencies, the minimum wage hike and the real estate bubble. The young administration needs to take care of these issues first. We're not saying we won't hold a referendum. It's the first amendment in 30 years, and a charter we may uphold for the next century. We can't rush it."
Of the National Assembly's 297 lawmakers -- 198 need to vote in favor for the revision to pass.
The Liberty Korea Party holds 118 seats -- enough to block any deal that it deems unfavorable.
Although smaller in representation, three other parties in the committee have all recognized the need for an amendment, but differ slightly regarding the specifics.
But at this point, the key to the amendment lies in the hands of the two major blocs and how they can get around their differences.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.