Moon fights a combative, split NPAD

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Moon fights a combative, split NPAD

In a clear display of dismay at fellow party lawmakers, opposition party chief Moon Jae-in boycotted a party leadership meeting Monday, an unprecedented indicator of the party’s deepening internal strife.

Moon, chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), opted not to preside over a leadership meeting that began at 8 a.m., Monday, and stayed in his Assembly office. It was the first time he skipped a leadership meeting since he was elected in February.

The motive behind Moon’s abrupt boycott of the meeting was clear: It was an expression of frustration at fellow party lawmakers who continue to bash his leadership even after he staked his job on the outcome of a party central committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

The harshest remark against Moon came Sunday from NPAD floor leader Lee Jong-kul, the second-most powerful lawmaker in the party after Moon, when he said the way Moon called for a vote of confidence and staked his position reminded him of the way former President Park Chung Hee declared the Yushin Constitution in 1972, which cleared the path for him to assume unconstrained dictatorial powers. The late President Park was the father of incumbent President Park Geun-hye.

Lee’s remark was a humiliation for Moon, who in his college years fought Park’s authoritarian government as a student protestor and was put behind bars for pro-democracy activity. Lee’s stinging remark followed Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo’s open objection to Moon’s decision to put his leadership on the line over the passage of proposals that would dramatically change the way the party picks candidates for the general election next April.

Pressured by opposition lawmakers to apologize for his remark, Lee visited Moon after the leadership meeting that Moon boycotted and apologized. Moon accepted his apology.

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

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