Another internal feud looms within DPK

Rep. Lee Jae-myung, left, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), speaks with Kim Boo-kyum, co-chair of the party's election campaign committee, during a gathering of DPK candidates running for the April 10 general elections at the National Assembly in Seoul, Sunday. Joint Press Corps

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) is once again showing signs of internal discord over how to deal with a controversial candidate, with observers warning that the infighting could sour public opinion on the party with less than a month remaining until the April 10 general elections.The party leader, Rep. Lee Jae-myung who is facing renewed accusations of favoring members loyal to him, appears to be at loggerheads with former Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, co-chair of the party’s election camp, over the candidacy of Yang Moon-seok, a DPK member slated to run for the Ansan-A constituency in Gyeonggi Province.Over the past few days, Yang has sparked controversy for his past remarks disparaging late former President Roh Moo-hyun, who is revered among liberal politicians.In an op-ed piece in 2007, Yang described Roh as “defective goods” for his push for the implementation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and expressed disgust toward Roh’s policies. That year, Roh concluded the trade pact with the United States despite strong domestic opposition.

Following the revelations, calls arose within the party to cancel Yang’s nomination. Kim released a statement on Saturday, calling for reconsideration of Yang’s nomination. Former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, who currently heads the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, also urged the party to eliminate Yang, claiming that disparaging Roh is tantamount to denying the party’s identity.However, the DPK chief defended the candidate, who is widely known as a strong loyalist to Lee, stressing freedom of expression.”Former President Roh would not have criticized or vetoed politicians who criticized him, and I will do the same,” Lee told reporters. “There are many members within the party who make all sorts of malicious comments about me, but should I stop them? It would not be the right move.”In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Saturday, Yang apologized for his past remarks on Roh, explaining that the comments were made while he was a civic activist, not a politician. The clash between Lee and Kim comes less than a week after the DPK launched the co-chairmanship of its election camp, seemingly in a bid to mend the party’s factional disputes that were underscored during the nomination process.

“Lee’s remarks defending Yang could be viewed as another display of favoritism toward members who are loyal to the party’s leader. The decision to retain Yang despite opposition from prominent party members could lead to further infighting,” political commentator Park Sang-byeong told The Korea Times.During a brief encounter with Yang at the National Assembly, Sunday, Kim reportedly told the candidate that he is the “only person who can mend the current situation,” implying that he should withdraw his candidacy.Critics also point out that the DPK’s decision to retain Yang on the nomination roster contrasts to the ruling People Power Party’s moves to eliminate candidates who are embroiled in controversies due to their past remarks.The PPP canceled the nomination of Jang Ye-chan, a candidate for Busan’s Suyeong, Saturday, due to his inappropriate remarks posted on Facebook about a decade ago. The decision came just two days after the party stripped the candidacy of Do Tae-woo in Daegu’s Jung and Nam constituency for his 2019 remarks linking North Korea’s influence with the 1980 pro-democracy uprising in Gwangju.”The contrasting 추천 moves of the rival parties could reflect poorly on the DPK’s reputation,” Park said.

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