South Korean judge turned MP sparks row with personal insult

South Korea has a divisive political culture where score-settling is ingrained

A prominent South Korean judge turned senior lawmaker sparked a political row by personally insulting a rival MP during a live-streamed meeting.

In a divisive political culture where score-settling is ingrained, it is not uncommon for South Korean MPs to exchange shouting and finger-pointing, but it is rare to see a lawmaker levelling unvarnished personal slurs at a fellow legislator.

Yeo Sang-kyoo, of the opposition Liberty Korea party, was chairing a parliamentary committee meeting when a ruling Democratic party politician objected to his handling of the proceedings.

"What a nonsense... by such a dickhead," Yeo said.

The Korean word he used is a technically a pejorative term for disabled people, but normally translated as "dickhead".

His comments were widely shared online, with the phrase "Yeo's insult" ranking as the most searched news item Tuesday on the country's second largest online portal Daum.

Yeo later apologised, with the 71-year-old saying he did not recall making the remark and asking for it to be deleted from the official transcript.

But the Democrats insisted the profanity should remain on the books.

"The records of history will forever contain a mark of disgrace for Yeo's future generations," said the Democrats' floor leader Lee In-young.