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senior lawmakers-gov't reorganization bill

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- Some senior ruling party lawmakers called for emergency measures Wednesday to break a parliamentary deadlock over the new government's formation amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

President Park Geun-hye's government reorganization proposal has been stuck in parliament for weeks due mainly to opposition concerns it will lead to a strengthening of government control over the media.

Park has repeatedly stressed that she will not back down on the proposal, which she says will boost government efficiency.

The parliamentary impasse has affected the confirmation process for Park's ministerial nominees, leaving the president with no defense minister, top national security adviser or national intelligence chief at a time when North Korea is threatening nuclear war against South Korea and the United States.

The communist nation has recently stepped up its bellicose rhetoric to protest new U.N sanctions for its nuclear test last month and this week's annual military drills between South Korea and the U.S.

On Monday, North Korea cut off a Red Cross hotline with the South. North Korea had also threatened that effective Monday, the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War would no longer be valid.

Under parliamentary laws, the speaker of the National Assembly is allowed to put controversial bills to a vote in times of war or in an equivalent state of national emergency.

"I think we're in a situation where the speaker should decide whether this constitutes a state of national emergency equivalent to war," Rep. Rhee In-je, a six-term Saenuri lawmaker said during a meeting of senior party officials and lawmakers.

"In history, war always comes in defiance of expectations. War comes when we think it's not likely, and aren't we in a state of national emergency now?" he said, urging his party and parliamentary leaders to seek a breakthrough.

Rep. Song Kwang-ho, a four-term Saenuri lawmaker, called for a redefinition of a state of national emergency.

"The public and politicians think a national emergency is when Gwanghwamun is shelled, but that's wrong," he said, referring to the center of the capital. "A hostile country's preparations for war themselves constitute an emergency situation."

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