Looking for new leadershipThe fledgling Unified Progressive Party, in trying to break out of the eye of the storm of ideological dispute, unveiled measures to reinvent its party platform and direction.
The measures announced by an ad hoc reform committee responded to various questions and controversies the party was related to. The party stigmatized as pro-North Koreans due to some members being affiliated to past activities sympathizing with North Korean ideology was most specific in clarifying its position on North Korea.
It is opposed to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and program. It is also critical of North Korea’s human rights abuses that were “very serious” and
“cannot be justified at any rate.” It also agrees with the general consensus that the dynastic rule by the Kim family goes against democratic principles.
The reform committee advised the far-left party to veer away from its hard-line stance on the security alliance with the United States and the presence
of American troops. It said its call for immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces and the breaking of the security pact with the U.S. should be revised to take account of realistic circumstances. Similar advice went to the party’s hardcore stance on business conglomerates.
The basic framework of the reinvention would be eliminating the red color from the party and reversing the past platforms pursued by pro-North Korean mainstream forces that led the party’s merger and launch. The National Liberalization (NL) faction of the party upheld Pyongyang’s founding ideology of self-reliance, denying the legitimacy of the South Korean government. Representative Lee Seok-gi, considered the faction’s ring-leader, said that pro-American sentiment was worse than pro-North Korean ideology and refused to sing to the national anthem, “Aegukga.”
The paradoxical and antiquated nature of the NL faction’s views has been exposed to the public over the last few months. It came under attack for its critical perspective on the country’s legitimacy. The public was appalled by its lack of conscience and decorum demonstrated in its foul play in elections and violence to resist party decisions unfavorable to its stance. Its narrow-mindedness and audacity jeopardized the entire liberal camp.
The new set of reform measures prescribed by the reform committee sets the party in the right direction.