Opposition-controlled National Assembly passes bill on special counsel probe over Marine’s death

July 5, 2024

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) on Thursday railroaded a contentious bill mandating a special counsel investigation into the military’s response to a Marine’s death amid fierce protest from the ruling party.

The bill, which passed in a 189-1 vote, calls for the appointment of a special counsel to look into allegations of interference in the Marine Corps’ internal investigation into circumstances surrounding the death of Cpl. Chae Su-geun during a search mission for downpour victims in July 2023.

The bill was put to a vote during a plenary session at the National Assembly after the ruling People Power Party’s 24-hour filibuster to block the passage of the bill ended in the afternoon.

The DP-led bill had initially passed through the previous National Assembly but was scrapped in a revote after President Yoon Suk Yeol vetoed it. The DP proposed it again after the new National Assembly came into office in late May.

The presidential office expressed strong regret over the DP railroading the bill although it was rejected in a revote after Yoon’s veto, calling the move “unconstitutional.”

“(We) deplore the shameful infringement upon the Constitution in the history of our Constitution,” a senior presidential official said, requesting anonymity.

Earlier in the day, DP floor leader Park Chan-dae warned Yoon against vetoing the bill.

“He should bear in mind that if he exercises veto rights, he will be put on a path to catastrophe and downfall,” Park said during a party policy meeting.

Under the National Assembly Act, a filibuster can be stopped after 24 hours if at least three-fifths of all parliament members, or 180 lawmakers, consent to it.

Immediately after the bill was tabled at a plenary session the previous day, DP lawmakers submitted a request for an end to the filibuster.

In response to the passage of the special probe bill, the ruling People Power Party (PPP) said it will boycott the opening ceremony of the 22nd National Assembly, originally scheduled to be held Friday, while also criticizing the DP’s motion, submitted Tuesday, to impeach four prosecutors involved in the investigation of criminal cases against its former leader Lee Jae-myung.

The PPP’s floor leader Choo Kyung-ho said the party also asks President Yoon Suk Yeol not to participate in the ceremony.

The office of the National Assembly speaker later said the opening ceremony will be postponed and rescheduled at a later date.