Both President Moon Jae-in and the ruling party have acknowledged that efforts to hold a national referendum on constitutional amendment alongside the local elections in June have collapsed.
Opposition parties still insist that discussions must continue but some believe that the prospects of realizing a constitutional revision within President Moon's term are becoming increasingly pessimistic.
Chairing a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Moon expressed deep regret over the National Assembly’s failure to pass a bill seeking revisions to the National Referendum Act by Monday’s deadline.
The act needs to be revised to proceed with a public referendum on a constitutional amendment.
Moon said he is deeply sorry that he won’t be able to keep his promise made with the people to amend the Constitution by the time of the June local elections.
The ruling Democratic Party also held a similar stance on Wednesday.
In a party meeting, floor Leader Woo Won-shik said that holding a vote on the amendment during the elections has become impossible. He said that from this time onward, discussions on the issue in parliament are no longer feasible.
Holding a referendum on the amendment simultaneously at the time of the June elections was a pledge shared by all candidates in last year's presidential election.
The unanimous stance raised hopes of a golden opportunity to finally realize a constitutional revision which made little headway over the years due to conflicting political interests.
Amid lackluster progress in parliamentary discussions, President Moon submitted a government-led amendment bill to the Assembly last month.
The presidential office said the proposal is aimed at accelerating parliamentary debate on the amendment. However the opposition camp strongly protested the move.
Then a scandal broke out on the political scene.
The online comment-rigging scandal centers around a blogger, identified by the username “druking,” who is suspected of using a computer program to artificially increase the number of “likes” for online comments critical of the Moon administration.
The opposition has called for an independent counsel probe, saying the scandal which involves Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Kyoung-soo, a close aide of President Moon, was not being thoroughly investigated.
The partisan feud led to a parliamentary impasse on amendment discussions.
The president and ruling party have blamed the opposition's political offensive for the failed amendment, while the opposition continues to object the amendment bill put forward by the president.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has said that talks on the amendment must continue nonetheless. But it's difficult to deny the amendment drive has lost considerable steam.
Partisan differences on the key issue of power structure reform are another stumbling block to amendment negotiations.
The ruling camp wants a four-year, two-term presidential system, while the opposition calls for a semi-presidential system that is close to a parliamentary government.