South Korea’s Yoon again vetoes probe bill into marine’s death

By Hyunsu Yim

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Tuesday vetoed a bill mandating a special counsel probe into allegations that military officials and the presidential office interfered in an internal investigation into the death of a marine last year.

Yoon, who was visiting the United States to attend a NATO summit, endorsed a motion returning the bill to the National Assembly for it to be reconsidered, his office said.

Opposition parties control the assembly after an election win in April but they need at least eight members of Yoon’s People Power Party to defect to have the two-thirds majority required to override the veto.

Yoon’s office criticised the bill as politically motivated.

“There should be no more political abuse of the unfortunate death of a Marine who was called by the country and died in the line of duty,” a statement from the presidential spokesperson’s office read.

The bill was voted on by the parliament earlier this month but boycotted by members of Yoon’s People Power Party.

In May, Yoon vetoed a similar opposition-led bill to mandate a special counsel investigation into the marine’s death.

Yoon has exercised his veto power 15 times since taking office two years ago, one of the highest numbers in the country’s democratic history, deepening the confrontation with the parliamentary opposition.

The parliamentary stalemate comes as Yoon’s latest approval ratings have hovered around the 25% mark since April, and has hamstrung his bid to implement a conservative agenda including tax cuts and deregulation.

Over 1.3 million people have so far signed the petition calling for Yoon to be impeached on the National Assembly’s website since it went live on June 20.

Police on Monday announced its decision not to charge a Marine division commander accused of bearing responsibility for the young soldier who died during a search operation for flood victims while referring six officers to the prosecution.

The announcement was met with criticism from the main opposition Democratic Party who accused the police of failing to establish all the facts.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Michael Perry)


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