After acquittals, Han gets right back into politics

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After acquittals, Han gets right back into politics

Freed from the shackles of multiple graft scandals, former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook, a high-profile liberal politician, resumed her political activities yesterday.

Han has recently stood trial on two separate bribery charges since last year. After her first acquittal in April 2010, she was acquitted of the second charge yesterday.

Saying that she would work to end the “politics of shameful savagery” after yesterday’s acquittal, Han said she would devote her efforts to bring liberals to victory in next year’s presidential election.

Han yesterday joined a Democratic Party caucus and expressed her appreciation for their support throughout the trials. At the meeting, she stressed her commitment to reform the prosecution, urging the lawmakers to join.

“We must win the 2012 presidential election and reform the prosecution,” Han said. “My future political path is yet to be decided, but I want to stand at the center of the reform hand-in-hand with you.”

She then visited the grave of late former President Kim Dae-jung. Lee Hee-ho, the former first lady, accompanied her.

In the afternoon, she was scheduled to meet with Moon Jae-il, former chief of staff in the Roh Moo-hyun administration and head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation.

The two acquittals appeared to have strengthened Han’s position, while the liberals didn’t hesitate to attack prosecutors and the Lee Myung-bak administration for having attempted to disgrace her.

Supporters of the late former President Roh became more open about urging Han to run in the Democratic Party’s leadership election, scheduled in December.

“She is ready in her heart,” Representative Baek Won-woo of the DP, a close aide to Han, said in an interview with CBS Radio yesterday. “She is willing to do anything, even if it will be walking on a tough, long, painful path, if it is to end this administration. I think she will take rest, contemplate deeply, listen to other people’s opinions and make a final decision.”

Baek also accused prosecutors of launching the second investigation against Han in April 2010 because of her high chance of winning the Seoul mayoral race in June 2010 against the Grand National Party’s Oh Se-hoon.

Han lost to Oh by just 0.6 percentage points. She, however, did not run in last month’s mayoral by-election, which took place after Oh’s resignation, largely because she was still standing trial.

While Representative Park Jie-won, former floor leader of the DP and a key aide to former President Kim, has been considered the front-runner in the chairmanship race, Han is expected to be a strong rival based on her popularity among Roh loyalists.

The new chairman of the DP will manage the campaigns of the largest opposition party in next year’s legislative and presidential elections.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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