Yoon left the Saenuri to run as independent

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Yoon left the Saenuri to run as independent

A former political advisor to the president, whose recent drunken slip of the tongue cost him a nomination, left the ruling party Wednesday in an apparent attempt to run as an independent in the April 13 general election.

Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, a loyalist to President Park Geun-hye and two-term lawmaker representing Incheon’s Nam B District, submitted Wednesday his resignation from Saenuri, a party official said.

Earlier this month, the party rejected the application, seeking reelection in his district. Although no specific reason was given for the cut, Yoon recently found himself mired in controversy after a damning audio clip of a telephone conversation was leaked to the press. In the recording, Yoon can be heard telling an unidentified person that Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung should be “weeded out” and “crushed.”

The report exposed deepening fissures between Park’s loyalists and others in the party, mounting pressure to bar Yoon from the upcoming election.

Speculations have been high that the party would tacitly support Yoon if he were to run as an independent by fielding no rival in the district. However, on Tuesday, the party nominated Kim Jeong-sim, senior official of the Incheon Chapter, to the district.

As he left the Saenuri Party, about 3,000 Saenuri members also gave up their memberships in support of the lawmaker.

In addition to Yoon, Saenuri lost six lawmakers in protest of the party’s nomination decisions: Reps. Kim Tae-hwan, Chin Young, Cho Hae-jin, Ahn Sang-soo, Kwon Eun-hee and Kang Ghil-boo. As of Wednesday, the Saenuri has 150 lawmakers. More are expected to leave, as at least five lawmakers submitted petitions to the party to reconsider its decisions not to nominate them. If they all leave, Saenuri will only occupy 145 seats, losing its majority. As of now, the 300-seat National Assembly has 292 members.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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