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Rival parties clash over North Korea issues, real estate measures on first day of parliamentary audit Updated: 2018-10-11 11:04:25 KST

For the next few weeks, there'll likely be no let up in the back-and-forth between rival parties as they carry out a full-fledged evaluation of the government's past year in office.
Among the 12 parliamentary committee audits underway on Wednesday, the foreign affairs committee was no exception -- the subject of debate being the remarks of the foreign minister.

"Is the government willing to lift the 'May 24 measure'?"

"Yes. I believe it's being reviewed."

The 'May 24 measure' are sanctions imposed on the North after its deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in 2010 -- which included a ban on trade and investment.
While the ruling party said such bold measures are needed to boost the peace momentum, it drew strong criticism from the opposition bloc, which pointed out that North Korea has neither apologized for the attack, nor has it promised not to repeat such acts.
They also objected that concrete developments towards denuclearization are still lacking when it comes to the North submitting a list of its nuclear weapons and facilities.
The minister later apologized for the sanctions remark, and said it was an issue that would be dealt with flexibility.
She also noted that most of the sanctions in place overlap with UN sanctions, so lifting it wouldn't have much impact, and that developments regarding inter-Korean relations, and denuclearization progress will be taken into account.

Over at the defense committee audit, one of the main issues was the military agreement signed by the two Koreas in Pyeongyang last month -- which among other things calls for the setting of buffer zones on land, air and sea.
The ruling party said the agreement eliminated the threats of conflict and will reduce accidental military clashes, while the opposition said that Seoul has compromised its security posture by preemptively deciding to disarm the military.

At the land and transport committee, under the microscope were the government's real estate measures.
Opposition lawmakers argued that the government's measures to curb housing prices have failed, pointing out that prices have continued to rise in the capital region.
But the ruling party did not budge, saying that the surge in housing prices in the first place was triggered by the easing of regulations under the previous conservative government, which it said encouraged people to buy homes and engage in speculation.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.
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