National Assembly ratification of Panmunjom Declaration gaining momentum

Posted on : 2018-09-28 16:05 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
With Bareunmirae Party shifting stances, Liberty Korea Party remains isolated in its opposition
Democratic Party Floor Leader Hong Young-pyo (left) calls for the Liberty Korea Party to partake in the ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration at the National Assembly on Sept. 27. (Kim Gyoung-ho
Democratic Party Floor Leader Hong Young-pyo (left) calls for the Liberty Korea Party to partake in the ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration at the National Assembly on Sept. 27. (Kim Gyoung-ho

Discussions on National Assembly ratification of the Apr. 27 Panmunjom Declaration are gaining momentum once again after the successful conclusion of a third inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang and signs pointing to a second North Korea-US summit.

A decisive shift came when the Bareunmirae Party – which declined to speak out on the ratification issue prior to the third summit due to differences among its ranks – declared the situation “changed” and began showing a more proactive stance. Now the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is calling for the participation of the Liberal Korea Party (LKP), which remains isolated on the declaration’s ratification.

“The Bareunmirae Party announced yesterday that it would begin discussions on ratifying the Panmunjom Declaration, while the Party for Democracy and Peace and Justice Party have already agreed to cooperate actively with the ratification,” DPK Floor Leader Hong Young-pyo said in a DPK policy coordination meeting on Sept. 27.

“The Democratic Party will take an active role [in the ratification] along with other parties that support denuclearization and a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

During the same meeting, members of the LKP – which has claimed that the inter-Korean military agreement reached in the Pyongyang constituted an “abandonment” of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) – were criticized as “people whose eyes are open yet can’t see.”

“The LKP is still isolated on the Galapagos Islands,” said DPK Policy Committee Chair Kim Tae-nyeon.

“Hopefully, they will leave the Galapagos behind and join us on the path toward peace and prosperity for the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

With his message, Kim pressured the LKP to change its stance by noting its unique intransigence on the Panmunjom Declaration ratification issue among the five parties. With the Pyongyang Declaration this month representing an outgrowth of the Panmunjom Declaration, the DPK views the ratification of the previous declaration – already submitted to the National Assembly – as a key agenda item.

Bareunmirae Party floor leader Kim Kwan-young, who has called for passage of a National Assembly support resolution ahead of the Panmunjom Declaration’s ratification, proposed in a press conference the day before that the Panmunjom and Pyongyang Declarations and inter-Korean military agreement be combined into a single package for National Assembly ratification.

Noting that “significant denuclearization measures are predicted” at a future North Korea-US summit, Kim claimed the “time has come to serious talk about ratification rather than a resolution.” He also promised to “work on” fellow lawmakers in his party who oppose ratifying the Panmunjom Declaration.

Bareunmirae’s support comes with certain conditions

But the Bareunmirae Party also stated prerequisites in a party floor policy meeting the same day. Kim reiterated demands for an estimate of costs for implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration, arguing that the administration was being “less than forthright” in delivering the National Assembly an estimate covering only one year’s worth of costs. He also insisted that “North Korea needs to simultaneously undertake corresponding ratification procedures and disablement measures for its current nuclear capabilities.”

If the Bareunmirae Party does resolve its internal differences to come down solidly on the “pro” side, it will leave the LKP isolation in the National Assembly.

The LKP insists that it cannot go along with ratification of the Panmunjom Declaration before complete denuclearization occurs. In a LKP general meeting of lawmakers that day, emergency committee chair Kim Byeong-joon said it was “unfair to call [the LKP] ‘bystanders in the peace process’ just because we say that establishment of a peace regime must proceed alongside denuclearization.” But souring public opinion on the LKP’s sole opposition could function as a future variable affecting its position.

By Kim Tae-gyu and Song Gyung-hwa, staff reporters

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