gov't reorganization bill-passage

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- The National Assembly on Friday passed a bill to reorganize the government under new President Park Geun-hye following a near-two-month parliamentary impasse that blocked the administration from fully forming.

The bill endorses the creation of several new government offices, including the presidential office of national security and the future creation and science ministry, as well as the reassignment of responsibilities among existing offices, such as the transfer of trade negotiating functions from the foreign ministry to the commerce ministry.

Recurring disagreements between the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) delayed the bill's passage and affected the parliamentary confirmation process for Park's Cabinet nominees. This forced the president to take office on Feb. 25 without her own Cabinet and left the new government in limbo for nearly a month.

On Sunday, the two parties agreed to pass the bill after reaching a deal on the transfer of some responsibilities from the watchdog Korea Communications Commission (KCC) to the future creation and science ministry, which the DUP had feared would lead to a strengthening of government control over the media.

Park and the ruling party have argued that the transfer is necessary to boost government efficiency.

However, in the process of passing each reorganization proposal through relevant parliamentary committees, the parties each accused the other of misinterpreting several clauses regarding the transfer and failed to meet their agreed-upon deadline to pass the bill during a full Assembly session on Wednesday.

Late Thursday, the Saenuri Party agreed to accept the DUP's demands calling for the KCC to have greater oversight over broadcasting industry regulations in what critics said was a move to divert public attention away from the sudden resignation earlier in the day of a vice justice minister implicated in a sex scandal.

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