DPK withdraws impeachment motion against broadcasting watchdog chief

Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo, right, the floor leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, whispers to Rep. Park Ju-min at a policy meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul, Nov. 9. Yonhap

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) withdrew an impeachment motion against the chief of the state broadcasting watchdog Friday in an attempt to pass it again later as chances of its passage are now low.

The DPK submitted the motion to impeach Korea Communications Commission (KCC) Lee Dong-kwan on Thursday, less than three months after he took office, accusing him of unfair personnel decisions and appointments aimed at increasing government influence over broadcasting stations.

The DPK had planned to pass the motion through the National Assembly sometime in the following few days, expecting the plenary parliamentary meeting to remain open as the ruling People Power Party (PPP) vowed to begin a filibuster to block the passage of a series of contentious bills.

But later Thursday, the ruling party caught the DPK off guard with a decision not to launch a filibuster and let the contentious bills pass. That led to the plenary meeting ending unexpectedly early later Thursday.

By law, the motion should be put to a vote between 24 and 72 hours after it was reported to a plenary meeting. The DPK needed the approval of Speaker Kim Jin-pyo to open a new plenary meeting for a vote, but Kim has been negative about opening a new session without agreement between the rival parties.

Unless a vote takes place, the motion will be automatically discarded. As there is precedent for the automatic discarding of a motion being regarded as a rejection, the DPK cannot pursue the same motion again in the same parliamentary session.

Lee Dong-kwan, head of the Korea Communications Commission, attends a Cabinet meeting, Nov. 10. Yonhap

The DPK also withdrew impeachment motions against two prosecutors. The party accused the prosecutors of irregularities, but the ruling party and the prosecution denounced the motions as retaliation for investigating DPK leader Lee Jae-myung over corruption allegations.

"We have just submitted a request to withdraw the impeachment motions submitted yesterday. Our request was accepted without any issues," said Rep. Park Ju-min, the DPK's floor spokesperson. "We will push ahead with the impeachment around the time of the upcoming plenary meeting scheduled on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1."

The ruling PPP cried foul play, arguing that the motions cannot be taken back once submitted.

But the DPK rejected the PPP's argument, saying the motions can be withdrawn as they have not been formally introduced.

Later Friday, the National Assembly speaker approved the DPK's withdrawal request.

The tussle over the position of the broadcasting watchdog chief is widely believed to be part of efforts by the rival parties to put themselves in better positions ahead of April's parliamentary elections in consideration of the huge influence that broadcasting stations have over voters. (Yonhap)

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