Opposition lawmakers defect to join new party

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Opposition lawmakers defect to join new party

Two former lawmakers, Yoo Seon-ho and Jang Se-hwan, announced during a press conference Thursday their defection from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), apparently intending to join the ranks of another political party.

Park Joo-sun, a three-term NPAD lawmaker, also indicated in a radio interview with MBC on Thursday that he is strongly considering leaving the main opposition ahead of the Chuseok holidays at the end of the month.

Yoo, a former three-term lawmaker, and Jang, a former one-term lawmaker, revealed their decision at a joint press conference held at the National Assembly amid expectations they will join a new party in the works along with former senior NPAD adviser Chun Jung-bae, who left the main opposition earlier this year.

The two were especially critical of NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in following the “embarrassment” of the April 29 by-elections, in which the NPAD failed to win a single seat.

The defeat was a “serious indicator of public sentiment,” they added in a jointly prepared statement.

“The greatest responsibility falls on NPAD Chairman Moon Jae-in, who doesn’t take any responsibility and can’t even grasp the essence of the situation,” they said in response to criticisms that the opposition was “incompetent.”

In the April 29 by-elections, former Justice Minister Chun, who ran as an independent, beat out his NPAD rival to represent Gwangju’s Seo-B District, known to be a liberal base. The defeat was an embarrassing disappointment for the NPAD, which faced strong backlash as a result.

The other three available seats went to ruling Saenuri Party candidates.

Yoo and Park are known to have close relations with Chun, a Jeolla native.

The two added in their statement: “We aim for an opposition party that can properly criticize and watch over the ruling party’s incompetence or misgovernment and give the people trust and hope, one where North and South Korean relations can be improved and open new economic markets to ease economic and societal inequalities.”

Jang told reporters afterward, “There is nothing tangible about a new party yet, but I am continuously communicating with Rep. Chun Jung-bae.

“When Rep. Chun’s new party is actualized, I will join him.”

Yoo added that if Moon stepped down as opposition leader, it would be difficult to form a new party. “Chairman Moon’s greed will continue to bring about backlash,” he said.

Yoo is expected to run for the Mopko seat in the general elections next year.

Jang, meanwhile, is considering a run for the Wonsan seat in Jeonju.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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