It will be interesting to see which expectation wins out.
There remains the smug assumption among Korean and foreign conservatives in Seoul that the Grand National Party will find one maneuver or another to get the KORUS FTA ratified by the National Assembly, given the GNP’s numerical majority, in time for the treaty to go into effect come January 2012.
There is also skepticism held by others, including myself. We suspect the treaty’s opponents will put the nation’s greater economic well being aside in favor of their electoral politics by not making the same mistakes, earlier this year, as when the EU FTA slipped past them in the National Assembly.
Also, I’m not sure how determined the conservative legislators are willing to go to the wall for the KORUS FTA if they believe that by doing so they may not be re-elected in next April’s elections. On the other hand, there could be a reckoning among party leaders, under influence from big business, to push the treaty through to ratification, regardless if they feel believe they are expected to lose substantially in April. They may conclude they will lose big time next spring regardless what they do regarding the FTA. But I think that scenario is unlikely.
Meanwhile, the opposition is organizing street demonstrations against the KORUS FTA. Yesterday, more than 2,000 protesters gathered outside of the National Assembly. That was a puny-sized protest by Seoul mob demonstration standards. Normally one has to get a good 10,000 protesters out to make for a respectable-sized protest. No one knows if the demonstrations will get much bigger. Should that happen, the KORUS FTA could be delayed for months, with South Korea looking rather silly on the global stage. Well, that won’t be first time…
Assembly session abruptly canceled, delaying KORUS FTA bill
By Ser Myo-ja, Yang Won-bo
Korea JoongAng Daily