Constitutional amendment becomes political hot potato in Korea
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Constitutional amendment becomes political hot potato in Korea

November 6, 2019

Constitutional amendment has become a political
hot potato at Korea’s National Assembly. Core aspects include changing the country’s
power structure,… boosting basic rights and regional autonomy. For the first of our 3 part series delving
deper into the topic….Kim Min-ji sheds light on the A to Z of the revision. There has been mounting calls to amend the
country’s Constitution — to better reflect social and economic changes since its last
revision some three decades ago. First established in July 1948 — the Constitution
has undergone nine amendments — usually tweaked in a way to consolidate the power of the commander-in-chief. The latest revision in 1987,… followed a
pro-democracy movement against the military regime of then-President Chun Doo-hwan. It limited the president’s tenure to a single,
five year term,… stripped the president’s right to dissolve parliament,… abolished
media censorship,… and re-established the Constitutional Court — putting the country
on course to becoming a democracy. “The focal point of the amendment now is how
to change the government structure… to better run the country and amending the charter so
that it is in line with the changes in our society.” The matter came under the spotlight again
following the massive corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of former President
Park Geun-hye — which raised questions about the current power structure. A recent poll showed more than seven in ten
Koreans are in favor of an amendment,… far outpacing those that think there’s no need
for one. In fact, pushing for a referendum in tandem
with local elections in June was a common campaign pledge among key presidential candidates
during the snap elections last year. At the core of the amendment is the government
structure — with some stressing the need to restrict the president’s power… saying
it leads to corruption. Others argue that a longer tenure is needed
as five years is not enough to pursue long-term goals or implement diplomatic policies. Alternatives on the table include a four-year,
two term presidency,… or a semi-presidential system where the president and prime minister
share the power. “Simply put, it’s either extending the current
tenure to eight years by allowing a president to run again,… or by choosing to decentralize
— by sharing the role with a prime minister handpicked by the parliament. Whichever system, what’s important is how
the power is divided. The president should be in charge of diplomatic
and security affairs,… while the prime minister deals with internal affairs — such as managing
the government complexes that have moved to the administrative capital of Sejong.” The revision also calls for boosting regional
autonomy so that municipalities can co-prosper with the capital area,… as well as shoring
up people’s fundamentals rights — boosting rights to safety, healthcare and information,…
and offering better protection for the socially vulnerable. The due process for amendment requires the
approval from two-thirds of sitting lawmakers. Then, a majority of Koreans need to vote in
favor of it in a referendum. Talks have been underway National Assembly,…
but not much progress has been made with rival parties locking horns over *when to hold the
vote,… and *how to change the power structure. Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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