DUP must change its directionThe Democratic United Party has picked a new leadership with six-term Representative Lee Hae-chan as head of the party and Rep. Park Jie-won as floor leader. With the election, a tri-polar alliance among Lee, Park and Moon Jae-in, a presidential hopeful of the DUP, may affect the dynamics of the December 19 presidential race.
Before the April 11 general election, the DUP raised strong doubts about its qualification to be a ruling party. Han Myung-sook, former chairwoman of the party, pronounced that her party would scrap the free trade agreement with the United States if it took power, igniting sharp criticism of the party’s seriousness.
After the election, the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party raised an uproar over vote-rigging in one of its primaries and its pro-North Korea stance, which led to a bigger crisis of the DUP after its lawmaker-elect Lim Soo-kyung called North Korean defectors “traitors.”
The DUP’s new leadership is heading into the December presidential election. Citizens now raise such questions as: In what direction would it lead the country if it won power; will it keep its alliance with the UPP, which is still under the spell of North Korean ideology; and if it wins the presidential election, would it share power with the UPP and how would they deal with the critical issues of national security and human rights violations in the North?
A liberal party that represents the lower-and-middle class (quite so after merging with a number of progressive civic groups, the camp of Roh Moo-hyun followers and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions), the DUP is a force encompassing a wide spectrum of liberal values.
The DUP’s new leadership must pursue a new direction by respecting universal values on North Korean issues. Though there may be several ways to encourage Pyongyang to change, there cannot be a difference between liberals and conservatives when it comes to the issue of national security considering Pyongyang’s relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DUP should not shy away from efforts to improve human rights across the border.
Liberals in Korea must seek an improvement of the lives of our citizens, not to promote North Korea’s ideology. Their supporters want an improvement in their lives in practical areas such as employment, education and welfare.
The DUP has demonstrated vitality in its leadership contest. It must use it to open a new frontier for our citizens.