February 14, 2011
At a press conference on 13 February 2011, Democratic Party chairman, Sohn Hak-Kyu, stated that the Democratic Party (DP) would return to the National Assembly.
The decision ends the DP’s two-month boycott of the National Assembly, which commenced 8 December 2010, after the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) forced through its 2011 budget bill. One of the key upcoming agenda items will be legislation to implement the Korea-United States (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), after both sides signed the supplementary agreement on 10 February 2011.
Both the DP and Democratic Labor Party (DLP) oppose ratification, claiming the original FTA has been altered by the supplementary agreements, making it necessary to undertake a complete review of the FTA. However, the DP will find it difficult to rally wider public support in opposition to the KORUS FTA.
Throughout 2010-11, the DP has maintained a policy focus on social issues, including universal welfare services; such as school lunches, healthcare, and childcare; and the financial, taxation and regulatory reform required to support these policies. It will prove difficult for the DP to present opposition to the KORUS FTA in the same frame. In addition, anti-Americanism is currently at a low-level as a result of proactive USFK and US State Department measures, as well as increased public concern regarding North Korea. Wider public support for opposition to the KORUS FTA is unlikely to materialize.