DP strategist to meet with local political leaders

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DP strategist to meet with local political leaders


Yang Jeong-cheol

A high-profile political strategist from the ruling party will meet with the mayor of Busan and the governor of South Gyeongsang next week, following earlier meetings with the Seoul mayor and the Gyeonggi governor, indicating that preparations for the next year’s general election have kicked off.

Yang Jeong-cheol, the director of the Institute for Democracy, a think tank operated by the Democratic Party (DP), met with Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung on Monday. Yang, a key confidante of President Moon Jae-in, met with Park and Lee separately after the Institute for Democracy signed cooperation agreements with the think tanks run by regional governments.

According to the institute, Yang will visit Busan on Monday and South Gyeongsang on Tuesday to continue expanding the network. “We seek to establish a cooperation network with think tanks of all regional governments,” said an official of the institute. “Naturally, Yang will meet with mayors and governors.”

The institute said that the policy network between the ruling party and regional governments was an idea of Yang’s that he had before he took on his current role. Yang, who worked on Moon’s election campaign, left politics for two years, but returned to head the institute last month. He made clear that his goal is the DP’s victory in next year’s general election.

The opposition parties, particularly the conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP), have reacted strongly to Yang’s latest moves. After he had dinner with Suh Hoon, the director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) on May 21, the LKP demanded a criminal investigation into the head of the intelligence agency be opened. It said Suh is suspected of violating the National Intelligence Service Act, which bans members of the NIS from participating in political activities.

Rep. Min Kyung-wook, spokesman of the LKP, issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing Yang. “Yang is meeting with heads of local governments, although it’s been no more than 15 days since he created a controversy by having a secret meeting the NIS head,” Min said. “We are shocked by his boldness and shamelessness.”

“He said the meetings are for policy cooperation, but everyone knows that they are election strategy and cooperation for general election,” Min said. “Why is he meeting regional government heads who have influence over [their] residents and organizational power?”

The LKP also expressed concern that regional governments will offer pork-barrel programs ahead of the next general election. “Even if mayors and governors are members of a particular party, the regional governments do not belong to the party,” Rep. Kim Se-yeon, head of the LKP’s think tank Yeouido Institute, said in a Facebook post.

Kim also said in an interview with CBS on Wednesday that the LKP must make a bold decision ahead of the April general election. He suggested that Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn should run in the Jongno District of central Seoul against liberal heavyweights.

Despite his lack of political experience, Hwang won the LKP chairmanship race in February just 43 days after joining the largest opposition party. Many advised him to seek a proportional candidacy in the general election, but Kim said Wednesday that Hwang must aggressively control the LKP campaign.

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