Moon signed prosecutor bill, but it won’t save him from President’s curse

Moon signed prosecutor bill, but it won’t save him from President’s curse

President Moon signed the controversial prosecutor reform bill today. Well, I’ve talked a lot about the reform so let’s get straight to some interesting points I didn’t cover:

  • The Blue House changed its cabinet meeting schedule twice for this
    • This is the last (regular) cabinet meeting: as the head of an administration, the President signs a bill in a cabinet meeting, which usually starts at 10 am Tuesday, and this would be the last (regular) cabinet meeting
    • The reform bill in its entirety just passed today morning: the reform bill is actually two separate bills: the Prosecutor’s Office Act and the Criminal Procedure Act. Only the former passed the Assembly last week, and the latter passed today morning
    • BH rescheduled the meeting for 4 pm at first, then changed it again to 2 pm later (maybe it was faster than their expectation)
  • Justice Party questioned its raison d’être (again) 
    • JP unanimously voted for the first part of the bill last week
    • After the vote, the party came under heavy fire for betraying its initial position that the reform requires thorough discussions
    • Its six lawmakers all abstained today
    • These events prove (again) how fragile the progressive party’s political identity (more on this later)

The bill went through a couple of changes through the negotiations in the Assembly. What has not changed tells a lot of what Minjoo aimed for. SBS’s legal beat reporter Lim Chan-jong did a great analysis of this:

  • TL;DR (plus, it’s in Korean!): Minjoo wants to prevent the prosecutors from taking on abuse of authority cases (that is, what Moon and his confidants are most likely to face) 

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However, sorry for repeating myself, this won’t save Moon and his inner circle after the term. The ROK President’s authority is vaster than the US President’s, and controlling the police will be easier than the prosecutors. 

And as I told you before, this is why the ROK Presidency is a poisoned chalice.

No country for local election

South Korea’s local politics at the municipal level and below have never gotten over the central politics. The election schedule messed up by the ousting of Park Geun-hye made matters worse.

With the new President swearing in May, the June local election is going to be little more than a reassessment of the last presidential election. (SNU’s Park Won-ho has written a terrific op-ed on this.)

Gyeonggi governor is the best example. Kim Dong-yeon, a former econ technocrat who briefly ran for the next President (later quitted in support of Lee Jae-myung), is now running as the Minjoo candidate, and the PPP chose Yoon’s campaign spox Kim Eun-hye as its candidate for the post.

Kim Eun-hye has much less experience than her competitor in the party Yoo Seung-min but serving Yoon apparently helped.

The PPP even considers presenting the prosecutor reform as the chief campaign topic. It’s a grave issue indeed, but what on earth does it have to do with local politics?

However, even the voters will be thinking of it before they go to a polling station. South Korea’s no country for genuine local politics yet.

Will Lee Jae-myung run for lawmaker?

Former Minjoo leader and lawmaker Song Young-gil is now running for the Seoul mayor. Then who’s going to fill his seat in the Assembly?

One possibility, which is getting stronger day by day, is that the former Minjoo candidate for President Lee Jae-myung might run for it. 

Yesterday’s Prez candidate running for a seat in the Assembly won’t look great, but Lee needs one because:

  • Lee’s influence over the party will fade away soon if he remains without any elected post
    • He has no experience in the central politics (Seongnam mayor and Gyeonggi governor only), so it may seem for now that he has a strong foothold in the party, it may soon fade away
  • Lawmaker’s immunity would help Lee a lot: let’s not forget he is under several suspicions

I’ve been living in Song’s constituency for years, so I can tell you that if Lee decides to run for a seat here, he could easily get it. This constituency has been very much favorable to Minjoo, and I don’t see any reason to believe this time would be otherwise.

Generation gap in housing (self-promotion time!)

In a country where real estate accounts for more than 60 percent of household assets, the increasing unaffordability has resulted in a yawning generational gap in house ownership and wealth.

An analysis of the 2020 Korea Housing Survey shows that house ownership nosedives in people younger than 40.

“The housing ladder for the Korean middle class had been somewhat stable for those born in the 1970s,” Cho Gwi-dong, an independent economic researcher, told Al Jazeera.

“But it begins to falter for those who were born after 1981. When it comes to those born in the late 80s, housing mobility just collapses.”

This gap helps explain why generation Z and millennial South Koreans are so antagonistic towards the older generation, Cho said.

Read more: South Koreans struggle to climb property ladder as prices explode


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