South Korea Partisan Rift Widens With Vote to Impeach Minister

  • South Korea’s progressive opposition bloc used its majority in parliament to approve an unprecedented impeachment measure against the interior minister, heating up partisan tensions as worries mount about the country falling into recession.
  • The Democratic Party and small groups passed the measure 8 Feb to impeach Lee Sang-min, making him the first cabinet minister in the country’s history to be impeached by parliament. They said he should be removed from office over what they saw as a failed response to a deadly crowd crush incident in Oct 22. President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative People Power Party has called the motion unlawful and defended its response to the incident.
  • Lee was suspended from office after the vote and his case goes to the Constitutional Court to determine whether the interior minister should be removed. The vote comes with risks for the opposition, which could be seen as abusing its authority if it loses in court.
  • The Democratic Party has been incensed over an investigation by prosecutors into its leader Lee Jae-myung for alleged graft, calling the probe politically motivated. The party has used its majority in parliament to block many of the president’s business-friendly policies.
  • The friction comes as South Korea posted a record trade deficit in Jan 23 on weakening exports, raising concerns about economic contraction amid deteriorating semiconductor demand and persistently elevated energy prices.
  • The president has also come under pressure from Washington to comply with the Biden administration’s sweeping curbs on the sale of advanced chips to China, where major South Korean semiconductor makers have facilities.

External Link :