Yong Hye-in Shines in the Legislative Audit

The public is more attuned to the National Assembly.

Yong Hye-in Shines in the Legislative Audit

Photo: Yong Hye-in at the 2023 annual audit of state affairs. Credit: Office of Assembly Member Yong Hye-in.

The National Assembly 국회’s annual audit of state affairs 국정감사 is by far the biggest event of South Korea’s legislature. Although the executive branch generally tends to overshadow the Assembly, the legislature can flex its power each year by summoning cabinet ministers, provincial governors and other powerful officials for public questioning under penalty of perjury. Despite their importance, however, legislative audits tend to draw little attention from the general public.

This year’s audit, held from October 10 to 27, also received  low marks from the public. According to the Gallup Korea survey, only 15% said this year’s audit of state affairs was “fruitful,” while 49% said the opposite - largely consistent with results from previous years, which have fluctuated between 13 and 19% over the past decade.

But the Gallup Korea poll also showed some signs of change. When asked which Assembly Members made an impression during the audit, 22% of respondents could name at least one legislator - a significant improvement from past years, when fewer than 10% could name a legislator who caught their attention. Gallup hypothesizes that good sound bites are easily shared online, giving Assembly Members more opportunity for exposure if they manage to go viral.

Assembly Member Yong Hye-in 용혜인 of the Basic Income Party 기본소득당, a minor progressive party that usually votes with the Democratic Party 민주당, was this year’s stand-out. Despite her relatively short political career, the 33-year-old has been a trailblazer. After entering politics in 2014 in protest of the Park Geun-hye 박근혜 administration’s response to the Sewol Ferry Disaster 세월호 사건, Yong won her first election in 2020 and quickly became a leading young politician. Her sharp questions regarding the Itaewon Disaster in this year’s audit were widely shared across South Korean social networks.

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