ow ex-presidential chief of staff fell ‘victim’ to DPK candidate nomination fiasco

Im Jong-seok, former presidential chief of staff to former President Moon Jae-in, center, greets citizens during a canvassing event at Wangsimni Station in Seongdong District, eastern Seoul, Wednesday. From left are Democratic Party of Korea Rep. Hong Young-pyo, Im and Yoon Young-chan, another DPK lawmaker, all of whom are categorized as members of the DPK's pro-Moon faction. Yonhap

Im Jong-seok, chief of staff to former President Moon Jae-in, is being portrayed as a “victim” of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea’s (DPK) conflict between Chairman Lee Jae-myung and a pro-Moon faction, as Im has been sidelined from the party’s candidate nominations for the upcoming April 10 general elections. His exclusion has thrust deepening animosity between the party chairman and the pro-Moon faction into the limelight, with the media describing Im as an iconic member of the pro-Moon faction. However, political analysts are questioning this rationale, saying those who are critical of Chairman Lee are using Im as a pretext for their anti-Lee campaign .As of Thursday, Im is continuing his election campaign in Seoul’s Wangsimni area, which is categorized as part of the Jung-Seongdong constituency, despite being sidelined from the DPK’s candidate nominations for the area on Tuesday.

As a consequence of this snub, Im asked the party leadership to reconsider the decision, but did not specify whether he would leave the DPK or not. On Wednesday, he attended a canvassing event at Wangsimni Station as a DPK member, along with several pro-Moon faction members such as Rep. Hong Young-pyo, who also missed the cut, Thursday .Following Im’s snub, pro-Moon faction members are decrying the party’s chairman for what they see as “a massacre in candidate nomination” against lawmakers not aligned with Chairman Lee. Lee Nak-yon, a former DPK chairman who already created the Saemirae Party after butting heads with Chairman Lee, is asking Im to join the new party, in an apparent hope that pro-Moon faction members may follow Im and join the Saemirae Party. Even ruling People Power Party interim leader Han Dong-hoon commented Thursday that Chairman Lee appeared to be persecuting potential rivals for the party leadership. The remarks were aimed at criticizing the DPK’s ongoing dispute over the candidate recommendation process, but at the same time, this helped to elevate Im’s status as a potential challenger to Lee’s supremacy within the party.

The DPK’s internal feud is elevating Im’s status as an iconic figure of the pro-Moon faction, but political watchers are describing the current situation as “a mysterious outcome,” which came as various stakeholders’ different interests collided. “Though the media is describing Im as one of the leaders of the pro-Moon faction, however, it is hard to describe him as a long-time Moon loyalist,” a DPK official said asking not to be named. “Rather, he is categorized as the late (DPK) Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon’s person. When former President Moon named him as the presidential chief of staff, it was interpreted as Moon seeking cohesion between DPK factions.”Im is a former progressive activist who served a prison term for violating the National Security Act. After being reinstated during the liberal Kim Dae-jung administration, he served two straight terms in the National Assembly — from 2000 to 2008 in the Wangsimni area — but failed to be reelected in the following general elections. Im gained political attention during former Mayor Park’s election victory in the 2014 local elections, and became the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s vice mayor for political affairs. Due to this, a former official of the Moon administration said “Moon sought cohesion between DPK factions” when he appointed Im as the presidential Chief of Staff in 2017.

“When it comes to legitimate Moon loyalists, names such as Reps. Youn Kun-young or Ko Min-jung should come to mind, rather than Im,” said Shin Yul, a professor of political science at Myongji University. Youn was a presidential secretary for state affairs monitoring for Moon and Ko was Moon’s spokesperson. “DPK Chairman Lee may think the pro-Moon faction’s accusations are unfair because both Youn and Ko were nominated as candidates for the upcoming elections, but the situation is making Im appear as an iconic victim for the pro-Moon faction. ”Shin said it is not wrong to categorize Im as a pro-Moon faction member because he served as the presidential chief of staff, but added that the current situation can be interpreted as pro-Moon and other anti-chairman factions of the DPK setting Im’s case as the pretext, which can justify their protest against the ongoing DPK candidate nominations.“For Im, it is better to remain inside the party and showcase scenes 온라인카지노 of him facing more adversity, as it will bolster his political presence,” Shin said.

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