Former South Korean prime minister among 29 politicians charged over mass brawl

South Korean lawmaker Chae Yi-bai was locked in his office by rival lawmakers Thursday.

Seoul (CNN)A former South Korean prime minister is one of 29 politicians charged over a mass brawl at the country's National Assembly last year that saw one lawmaker locked in his office for more than six hours.

A total of 37 people, including rival lawmakers and their aides, have been indicted on charges that include assault and violation of the National Assembly law, Seoul Southern District Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Na Byeong-hoon said in a briefing Thursday.
They include former PM Hwang Kyo-ahn, who also served as South Korea's acting president before the inauguration of current leader Moon Jae-in in 2017. Hwang is now leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.
A total of 23 lawmakers from Hwang's party and three of their aides were charged, along with five lawmakers and five aides from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.
    The charges relate to a mass brawl in April last year, when lawmaker Chae Yi-bai and four of his aides were trapped in his office after Liberty Korea Party members blocked his door with a sofa. Chae, a member of the minority liberal-conservative Bareunmirae Party, said he considered ripping out the window to escape. He eventually got out after police arrived at the scene.
    The chaos was over the government's electoral reform bill, which makes the allocation of the National Assembly's 300 seats more proportional to votes and boosts the presence of minor parties in parliament. The opposition claimed that the bill would "rip the assembly into pieces and render it a multi-party system."
    Other Liberty Korea Party members barricaded themselves in three committee rooms, where a vote on the bill was due to be held. That descended into a much bigger confrontation, as Democratic Party members attempted to get into the committee rooms and to free Chae from his office.
    Despite the altercation -- and another attempt by the opposition to filibuster the vote -- lawmakers passed the bill at the end of December. It will come into force before the country's next general election in April.