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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08SEOUL1676 2008-08-22 06:51:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Seoul
Cable title:  

KEY NA COMMITTEES LIKELY COOPERATIVE

Tags:   PGOV PREL PINR KS KN 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 001676 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/22/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR KS KN
SUBJECT: KEY NA COMMITTEES LIKELY COOPERATIVE

Classified By: POL Joseph Y. Yun. Reasons 1.4 (b,d).



1. (C) Summary: The Grand National Party (GNP) now controls
both the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee and
the National Defense Committee -- good news for U.S.-relevant
legislation. In addition to the chairs, the committees are
stacked with other pro-U.S. lawmakers, though the progressive
Democratic Party (DP) members on the committees could mount
significant opposition to more controversial bills. The
committee nomination process showed that the GNP is still gun
shy from this summer's beef protest -- a factor in display as
the DP exerted undue influence over the committee formation
process. Nevertheless, close allies in key positions bodes
well for U.S. interests in Korea. End Summary.



2. (C) In a break with past practice, three of the GNP's 11
committee chairs -- including the Foreign Affairs, Trade and
Unification Committee (FATU) -- were decided by vote. The
GNP leadership originally nominated all 11 chairman
candidates, but decided to hold elections for three positions
after lawmakers protested the nominations and announced their
desire for consideration. Park Jin, Kwon Young-se, and
Choung Byoung-gug announced they would run for chairs of
FATU, the Intelligence Committee, and the Culture, Sports and
Tourism Committee, respectively. The lawmakers criticized
the party's top-down nomination style demanding that the
selection be merit-based. In a vote of 156 GNP lawmakers,
Park Jin won the chairmanship of the foreign affairs
committee, but Kwon and Choung were both defeated in favor of
the leadership's choice candidates. The eight chairs that
were uncontested were endorsed by unanimous vote. While this
appears to be a victory for Park, Assembly sources note that
the GNP leadership is furious with Park and this may not have
been the best long term move for the ambitious Oxford grad
and former diplomat.



--------------------------


Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification


--------------------------





3. (SBU) The Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification
Committee (recently renamed so that "Unification" is listed
last instead of first) is one of the two most highly-sought
after committees in the National Assembly. The 29 members
have yet to be decided, but those seeking membership include
high-profile GNP members Lee Sang-deuk and U.S. educated
Chung Mong-joon along with former Defense Attache in
Washington, Hwang Jin-ha. Additionally, Kwon Young-se, a
third-term lawmaker and Harvard alum, is also hoping to join
the committee. Other possible GNP members include former
floor leader Ahn Sang-su, Park Geun-hye confidant Gu
Sang-chan, Lee Yoon-sung, fourth termer Chung Ui-hwa, and
Jeon Jae-hee. Also on the conservative's side, Liberty
Forward Party chief and erstwhile presidential candidate Lee
Hoi-chang also reportedly hopes to join the committee.



4. (SBU) For the Democratic Party, former Foreign Minister
Song Min-soon is on the potentials list, as are Former
Minister of Justice Chun Jung-bae and fellow four-term
lawmaker Chung Se-kyun. Another former Justice Minister Park
Sang-cheon, former Uri Party leader and current Vice Speaker
Moon Hee-sang, and former Justice Minister Kim Jong-yul are
also reportedly vying for DP slots on the committee.



--------------------------


National Defense Committee


--------------------------





5. (C) The smaller National Defense Committee -- with 18
members - will be chaired by GNP member Kim Hak-song. Kim is
not a defense specialist but is known in the Assembly for his
ability to follow marching orders from above, a trait that
endeared him to President Lee during the 2007 campaign. He
will likely prove a good partner and deal well with the Blue
House. Other senior lawmakers interested in joining include
GNP Floor Leader Hong Joon-pyo, four-term lawmaker Kim
Moo-sung, and three-term lawmaker and Oxford graduate Yim
Tae-hee. Kim Jang-soo, a former Minister of National
Defense, will also likely find a spot on the GNP's list,
along with Park Geun-hye advisor Yoo Seong-min, who earned
his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin.
Other contenders include Kim Dong-sung, Kim Sung-hoi, Kim
Young-woo, a former journalist who ran the policy team of
President Lee's think tank GSI for several years. Kim
Hok-lee and Kim Hyo-jae are also pushing for a space on the
committee. Conservative lawmaker Song Young-sun (Ph.D. from
University of Hawaii) of the Pro-Park Alliance is also a
likely defense committee member as the only woman with a
background on defense issues. Unfortunately, she is a testy
counterpart who frequently physically assaulted Lee Myung-bak
supporters during primary rallies, when she was a fervent
Park Geun-hye backer.



6. (SBU) Democratic Party hopefuls for the defense committee
include party heavyweights Park Sang-cheon -- a five-term
lawmaker and former Minister of Justice -- Moon Hee-sang, and
Chung Se-kyun, who studied at Pepperdine University.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





7. (C) The current National Assembly schedule calls for the
committee assignments to be finalized next week. Thereafter,
in early September, a new Assembly session will convene,
which should pass some of the more urgent domestic
legislation. The committee lists are tentative and subject
to change, but overall, the GNP dominance -- especially in
the FATU committee -- bodes well for U.S.-relevant
legislation. The relatively high number of lawmakers with
some U.S. connection is even better. Nonetheless, the
difficulty the GNP has had in dealing with the DP is unlikely
to go away.
VERSHBOW