President Park Geun-hye on Monday warned that a last-minute failure by the National Assembly to approve her government restructuring plan would result in serious setbacks.
"If the National Assembly fails to pass the restructuring bill by Tuesday, government will be paralyzed," Park told senior presidential secretaries at Cheong Wa Dae.
Tuesday is the last day of the extraordinary session of parliament, so the bill has to pass or wait months for the next session.
In a nationally televised address, Park also appealed for the passage of the bill. Among other things, it would transfer certain duties from the watchdog Korea Communications Commission to the new Ministry of Science; restore the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, which was abolished by the Lee Myung-bak administration five years ago; and transfer the Foreign Ministry's trade negotiating duties to the renamed Ministry of Industry, Trade and Energy, currently the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Park said she cannot back down on the bill "for the future of the country." "To develop our economy further and create more quality jobs, we must build a new growth engine based on the convergence between science, broadcasting and telecommunications."
She claimed the new Ministry of Science, which is at the heart of these efforts, would be toothless without the capacity to promote the broadcasting industry, and denied claims by the opposition that she is trying to seize control of independent broadcasters.
"I stand before you with a heavy and apologetic heart," she said. "One week into the new administration, the government restructuring bill has still not passed the National Assembly and caused serious delays to government. This is unprecedented since the country's founding."
Park offered again to meet with the leaders of the ruling and opposition parties in a last-ditch effort to pass the bill on Tuesday. The opposition had over the weekend rejected her offer to meet to discuss the issue and continued to criticize her for forcing the bill's passage.
"It seems the president would not listen to anyone, neither the opposition nor even the ruling party. Her attitude shows that she is not willing to engage in dialogue and discussion," Moon Hee-sang, the interim leader of the Democratic United Party, told reporters. "She should not insist on passing the bill as is but show flexibility and accept the compromises made by the National Assembly."
DUP floor leader Park Ki-choon also said Park seemed to be trying to pressure the opposition and the public, but vowed the party would not give in and work to reach a compromise.
Both ruling and opposition parties agreed to look into opening another extraordinary session of the National Assembly starting Friday.