Bareunmirae lawmakers aim to reshape party

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Bareunmirae lawmakers aim to reshape party


Yoo Seong-min

A group of Bareunmirae Party lawmakers opposed to its leadership launched a committee on Monday aimed at “changing and revolutionizing” Korea’s third-largest political party, in what was widely seen as an early move to reshape the conservative opposition bloc ahead of next year’s general election.

Rep. Yoo Seong-min, former co-chairman of the minor-right Bareunmirae Party, kicked off the so-called emergency action for change and revolution on Monday morning with 14 other Bareunmirae lawmakers, all who have either directly or indirectly distanced themselves from the party’s leadership of Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu. The new group, led by Yoo, declared it would focus on bringing the party’s lawmakers together and stopping internal fighting, saying their “time-wasting squabbles” are only drawing frustration from the public.

Local analysts saw Yoo as trying to combine forces for the upcoming general election next April, perhaps by exiting the Bareunmirae Party to establish his own party, but the former presidential contender refused to give a clear-cut answer on Monday when asked by reporters about the speculation, saying he hasn’t decided on the matter yet.

Yoo said in a press conference following the emergency action group’s first closed-door meeting that every member on the team shared the consensus they could no longer leave the Bareunmirae Party in its current state, adding they had “all options” on the table to decide what their next step would be.

“From this day on, I will no longer fight with Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu,” said Yoo. “I will try to gather forces inside and outside the party.”

Sohn, however, spared no time in bashing Yoo on Monday.

Sohn relayed his comments after a meeting with members on the party’s supreme council, which was held at the same time Yoo’s emergency action meeting was held. The latter group had dismissed a request from Rep. Lim Jae-hun, the party’s general secretary who’s part of Sohn’s inner circle, to hold their meeting at a time that doesn’t overlap with the supreme council meeting.

“Did [Yoo] cooperate [with me] after I was chosen as the chairman, or did he even participate in the party’s plenary sessions? He only chooses to show up when he wants to express opposition [to the party],” Sohn lashed out.

Yoo wasn’t the only one on Monday who hinted there could be changes in Korea’s opposition landscape.

A local publishing group announced that Ahn Cheol-soo would be releasing a memoir next week touching on his time spent in Germany and the life lessons he learned while running marathons there. Ahn was also a contender in the past presidential election and a former chairman of the centrist People’s Party, which later merged with the right-wing Bareun Party to form the Bareunmirae Party.

Ahn left for Germany in September of last year after announcing he would retire from politics for a “time of reflection and learning” in the wake of his humiliating defeat in the Seoul mayoral election that June, in which he came in third place.

But speculation that Ahn was soon to return to Korea was brushed off when Ahn’s aide told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday that he currently had “zero plans” to do so.

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