National
U.S. FTA to test new floor leaders’ resolve
Published : May 15, 2011 - 19:00
Updated : May 15, 2011 - 19:00
All eyes are on the new floor leaders of the Grand National Party and Democratic Party, who will lead their parties until the 2012 general election.

Former Finance Minister Rep. Kim Jin-pyo, who was elected Friday as DP floor leader, said he would work in tune with his counterparts, especially Rep. Hwang Woo-yea of the GNP.

Their predecessors, Park Jie-won of the DP and Kim Moo-sung of the GNP, were credited with reaching compromises and realized a relatively peaceful inter-party communication during their term.

But they left several disputed issues such as the Korea-EU Free Trade Agreement bill to their successors.

Hwang and Kim are seen to be relatively moderate.

Also, both have been deeply involved in the parliamentary education committee.

The two Christian lawmakers are also members of a group that strives to stamp out violence in the National Assembly.

“Rep. Kim Jin-pyo is reputed for his personal virtues and political insights,” said Hwang on Friday, after the DP’s in-party race results were announced.

“I will be glad to work in step with him in solving the complicated state affairs.”

Kim also expressed his trust in his GNP counterpart, referring to their amicable relationship in the past.

The duo, however, faces a number of hurdles over the coming year, especially the growing inter-party tension ahead of the general and presidential elections next year.

The most impending issue is the controversial Korea-EU FTA which is to be dealt with in the provisional session next month.

Earlier this month, in a special extra session, the GNP single-handedly passed the long-disputed FTA bill in a vote session boycotted by liberal opposition parties.

The hard-earned compromise between former floor leaders was broken, and the resulting strife was handed over to the newly elected lawmakers.

Kim of the DP said that the FTA should be renegotiated and revised first, claiming it infringed on the rights of local industries and threatened their survival.

Hwang and the GNP, however, once again pledged to pass the related bills within the June sessions, before the FTA takes effect this July.

While detailed discussion is expected next month, observers speculated that the U.S. FTA issue would be a watershed in defining the Kim-Hwang relationship over their one-year term.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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