UPP member lights self on fire to protest voting

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UPP member lights self on fire to protest voting

A member of the mainstream faction Unified Progressive Party, who grabbed one of the four former co-chairs of the party during a brawl at a conference on Saturday, lit himself on fire on Monday.

The UPP said that Park Yeong-jae, 43, set fire to himself at 6:15 p.m. on Monday in front of the main gate of the party’s headquarters office in Dongjak District, northwestern Seoul.

Park was protesting the online voting that voted down the candidates who were selected from the rigged primary held in March. Witnesses said that Park doused himself with paint thinner and then set himself on fire, shouting, “I can’t live like this” and that “the voting is invalid.”

The fire was put out by the building’s security guard immediately and Park was sent to Hallym University Medical Center in Yeongdeungpo District, western Seoul, where he is currently receiving treatment.

The hospital said that Park suffered third degree burns from the attempt and he is in critical condition.

“The party will try to amend this situation as soon as possible,” said Kang Ki-kab, the newly selected interim leader of the UPP’s emergency committee.

“We hope Park can recover his health soon and go back to the party and continue his activities passionately like he used to.”

Park’s identity was not verified until late Monday evening, but was later identified as the same person who grabbed Cho Joon-ho, a former co-chair of the UPP, by the collar and hair during Saturday’s conference that resulted in the party’s most violent brawl.

“They [the mainstream faction] should not create any other unnecessary confusion with this incident,” a spokesman for the non-mainstream faction warned.

Interim leader Kang Ki-kab formed an emergency committee and declared that the emergency committee will concentrate its energy on evaluating the fight, but members of the largest faction strongly denied legitimacy of the committee.

“None of us will join the committee because it was formed by invalid voting,” a spokesman of the largest faction told the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Park Shin-hong, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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