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South Korea’s Opposition Party Keeps Up Boycott Over Spy Claims

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s main opposition party vowed to press on with a boycott that’s frozen parliament after President Park Geun Hye refused to apologize over claims that the national spy agency meddled in elections last year.

Park met today with Democratic Party leader Kim Han Gil to try to resolve the deadlock. Kim later said at a party meeting that his lawmakers wouldn’t lift their boycott of the current session, which began Sept. 2.

Park’s meeting with Kim and members of her ruling party marked a personal intervention to try to break the stalemate and bring the focus back on her domestic policy agenda. Her government is trying to raise the welfare budget and maintain spending for public infrastructure projects.

“She needs the support of the legislature to move forward her economic policy goals for the remainder of the year,” Kim Yun Cheol, a visiting professor of political science at the Humanitas College of Kyung Hee University in Seoul, said by phone.

The Democratic Party holds 127 seats in the 300-member parliament. It wants Park to apologize for a scandal that erupted in June when prosecutors alleged the national spy agency got involved in last year’s presidential elections that Park won.

Won Sei Hoon, a former chief of the National Intelligence Service, is being tried on charges of ordering his agents to post pro-Park comments before the vote. Park’s office denied any involvement in the alleged campaign.

The standoff in parliament deepened last week when Prosecutor-General Chae Dong Wook offered to resign after the Justice Ministry ordered a probe into an allegation that he has a child from an extramarital relationship. Chae denied the claim, which was printed in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

At a party meeting today, Yang Seoung Jo, a Democratic Party lawmaker, accused the government of leaking the information to force Chae’s resignation. Chae led the investigation against the spy agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sam Kim in Seoul at skim609@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net

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