Moon makes efforts to unify split party

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Moon makes efforts to unify split party

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Main opposition leader Moon Jae-in appointed lawmakers across his party’s deeply rooted factions to high-ranking party positions, in what has been interpreted as his efforts to mend internal ruptures brought to light in the heated race for its top seat.

Rep. Moon Jae-in, the newly elected chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), named Rep. Yang Seoung-jo as the opposition’s secretary general and lawmaker Kang Gi-jung as its policy committee chief.

Yang and Kang, both three-term lawmakers, are both separate from the party’s largest faction mostly comprised of loyalists to the late President Roh Moo-hyun, many of whom once served under him.

Yang is thought to represent a group loyal to Sohn Hak-kyu, a former opposition leader now retired from the politics, while Kang is close to five-term lawmaker Chung Sye-kyun.

Moon also tapped second-term lawmaker Kim Kyung-rok as the party’s chief spokesperson, a decision that is indicative of his willingness to reach out to lawmakers who campaigned for Rep. Park Jie-won, Moon’s rival in the race for the NPAD chairmanship. Park lost to Moon by a margin of 3.5 percent

Given Kim’s political allegiance, the NPAD chairman’s choice has only raised expectations that the main opposition’s chronic in-fighting may be alleviated for now.

Park and Moon bitterly clashed in the run-up to the party convention last Sunday to the extent that Park, the former chief of staff for President Kim Dae-jung, called his rival “incompetent” and accused him of “playing dirty.”

The open confrontation between the two frontrunners raised worries over the state of the party as well as questions over how Moon would unite lawmakers across factions to challenge the ruling Saenuri Party.

Following his victory, the new chairman promised to reach out to fellow lawmakers with different internal allegiances. He delivered on that promise by appointing Rep. Kim Hyun-mee, who worked for Lee In-young - the third-place finisher in the party election - as his chief of staff.

In another effort to mend ties, Moon also visited Lee Hee-ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, on Wednesday, accompanied by senior party leaders.

During their talks, the former first lady asked Moon to work hard to achieve the reconciliation and unity he promised.

During the campaign for the NPAD chairmanship, the 93-year-old Lee endorsed Park Jie-won, who served her husband for over two decades.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]




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