South Korea's parliament has authorized prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for the main opposition leader accused of bribery and abuse of office.

The opposition-controlled parliament passed the motion by 136 votes to 149, euronews reported.

The vote means Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung will appear in court to challenge his arrest on the charges.

Lee is accused of asking a company to illegally transfer $8 million to North Korea when he was governor of Gyeonggi province.

The political leader is also accused of violating his duties as mayor of Seongnam by causing a municipal development company to lose $15 million.

"Political conspiracy"

Lee, who has denied any wrongdoing, calling the charges "fiction" and a "political conspiracy", was hospitalized on Monday while on a hunger strike in protest against the government's rule.

Lee, who was not present at the plenary session for the vote, had urged lawmakers in a social media post to vote against the motion and stop what he called the Yoon government's "prosecutorial dictatorship."

Lee narrowly lost to Yoon, a former attorney general, in last year's presidential election.

"The prime minister should be impeached"

Parliament also voted to impeach Prime Minister Han Duck-soo over a series of government policy blunders, including the fatal Halloween accident, inadequate response to heavy rains and flooding, and the much-criticized World Scout Camp.

It is the first time such a motion has been made against a prime minister in South Korea. President Yoon Suk Yeol is expected to use his power to reject the non-binding motion.

Yeol is currently in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

The Democratic Party has 167 seats in the 297-member parliament.

The next parliamentary elections in South Korea are scheduled for April next year.