The oedipal Mr. SohnSohn Hak-kyu, the former governor of Gyeonggi province, defected from the Grand National Party yesterday. He gave a lengthy explanation for his departure but it was unconvincing and self-serving.
Mr. Sohn maintained that previous periods of military and despotic rule have left behind poisonous traces that still have a malign influence upon the Grand National Party, but what about his record?
He won nominations from the Grand National Party to serve as a lawmaker, minister and governor. He was able to become a strong contender for the presidency, thanks to the political experience that he accumulated in the Grand National Party. The Grand National Party has many faults, but it is wrong for Mr. Sohn to cite them as his reason for leaving. His behavior is, at best, ungrateful. At worst it is dishonest.
Even last month Mr. Sohn called himself a gatekeeper for the Grand National Party and a beacon for its future. At a conference early this year he stressed that the Grand National Party must take responsibility for the country. Then, after a suspiciously brief period of meditation this weekend, he suddenly finds he must abandon the party that made his name.
Quoting some ancient history about Jumong, who took himself out of contention to be the king of Buyeo Kingdom so he could found the Goguryeo Dynasty, Mr. Sohn argued that Jumong left Buyeo because it had old-fashioned values. But would Jumong have left if he had been favored to become the king? It is the same with Mr. Sohn. He is presenting his departure as a high-minded affair, whereas his poor showing in the opinion polls seems a more likely explanation.
We have seen politicians take this road many times in the past. Mr. Sohn has been equivocating about his future for a long time. Thus, it is natural to suspect that he criticized the Grand National Party’s rules for its party primaries as a way to excuse his departure.
This is not about whether the Grand National Party has a good chance of assuming power. Any candidate from any party could give up if he or she tires of the battle. This is about one man seeking glory for himself at the expense of the party that nurtured him. For Mr. Sohn to strike at the hand that raised him is an act of political patricide, and the Grand National Party is his King Laius.
Mr. Sohn should take part in the Grand National Party’s primary or he should leave the presidential race. It is cowardly to ignore the rules just because he is behind in the polls. It is regrettable that these types of betrayals have become so prevalent.
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