DP leader calls for ruling party’s collaboration following Yoon’s veto of special counsel probe bill

Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung urges the ruling party’s assistance after President Yoon rejects the special counsel investigation bill.

Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung has intensified criticism against President Yoon Suk Yeol for vetoing a bill that sought a special counsel investigation into the military’s response to the death of a Marine. Lee, heading the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), pressed the ruling People Power Party (PPP) to collaborate in reintroducing the bill.

During a DP Supreme Council meeting on Wednesday, Lee emphasized the urgency for the PPP to “break away” from shielding the president and overlooking the citizen’s demise. He warned that failure to heed the public’s will could tarnish the party’s legacy.

President Yoon’s veto on Tuesday marked the 10th instance of him exercising this power during his tenure, overturning a motion for parliamentary reconsideration of the bill initially rushed through the opposition-dominated National Assembly on May 2. The legislation aimed to establish a special counsel to probe allegations of undue interference by Yoon’s office and the defence ministry in the investigation of Corporal Chae Su-geun’s death during a search mission in July 2023.

Simultaneously, the PPP retaliated against the opposition’s stance, highlighting a controversial solo trip by former First Lady Kim Jung-sook to the Taj Mahal in India in 2018. The visit sparked debates over official invitations and the expenditure of public funds totalling 400 million won (US$278,940). Notably, it marked the first independent foreign visit by a South Korean first lady in 16 years.

PPP members have demanded a special counsel investigation into Kim Jung-sook’s trip, drawing parallels with allegations surrounding current first lady Kim Keon Hee’s purported acceptance of a luxury handbag as a gift in 2022, an issue the DP accuses the PPP of attempting to downplay.

The political landscape remains charged as both parties engage in a tug-of-war over the investigation, underscoring the heightened tensions surrounding accountability and transparency within South Korea’s political sphere.