FKP leader resigns as divisions with UFP widen

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FKP leader resigns as divisions with UFP widen

Han Sun-kyo, the leader of the largest opposition United Future Party (UFP)’s satellite offshoot Future Korea Party (FKP), resigned from the post on Thursday as the rift between the two sister groups widened.

“I am resigning from the chairmanship post,” Han said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. “The corrupt forces stopped my reform attempt with their power as the main opposition party.”

Tensions escalated between the UFP and the FKP throughout this week over the satellite party’s controversial selection of proportional representation candidates. UFP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn issued a latest threat to the FKP earlier in the morning to challenge the satellite party’s selection of candidates in defiance of his recommendations.

“Taking into account the importance and meaning of the upcoming election, I cannot condone what they have done,” Hwang said during the party’s Supreme Council meeting. “The FKP greatly disappointed and troubled the voters by betraying the people’s high anticipation.”

In an attempt to exploit the new election rules for the April 15 general elections, the main opposition party launched the FKP on Feb. 5 as a satellite party to win more proportional lawmakers. While the UFP did not field its own candidates for the proportional lawmakers, the FKP received applications and nominated candidates on its behalf.

The UFP’s nightmare began when the FKP announced its list of 40 candidates on Monday. Politicians recruited by UFP Chairman Hwang were placed at the bottom of the list. The FKP is expected to win about 20 seats, but all Hwang’s picks were given numbers below 20.

The UFP called it a coup, and the FKP held a six-hour meeting on Wednesday to adjust the list. It decided to change the placements of about five candidates, but Hwang made clear on Thursday that is not enough.

“I will sever ties with obsolete, bad politics,” Hwang said. “I will fix this as soon as possible to return to the path of victory.”

Asked by reporters if he plans to create a new satellite party or replace the FKP’s leadership, Hwang said, “Now is not the time to talk about such options.”

Hwang also posted a message on his Facebook to condemn FKP Chairman Han Sun-kyo. “Politics is a promise,” he wrote. “Breaking a promise is violating a person’s dignity.”

Later in the day, the FKP’s electorates voted down an adjusted candidate list, where four candidates recommended by the UFP were given higher placements. According to the FKP, 61 of the 100-member electorate participated in the vote, and 47 disapproved the list, while 13 supported it. One vote was invalid.

The FKP’s nomination committee assigned Hwang’s celebrity recruitment, Yun Ju-keyng, number three in the modified list. Yun is a granddaughter of independence fighter Yun Bong-gil and former director of the Independence Hall of Korea. Despite Hwang’s recommendation, she was given the number 21 in the FKP’s original list.

Three other UFP recruitments were also moved up on the FKP’s list.

The electorate, largely composed of people connected to the UFP, voted down the list, reflecting Hwang’s disapproval of a small compromise. He has been making clear that he wants a completely new list from the FKP.

“Bargaining is not an option,” said a senior official of the UFP. “It is not about adding a few and taking out a few. The trust in our alliance has been destroyed.”

After the electorate’s rejection, Gong Byeong-ho, chairman of the FKP nomination committee, said he will further modify the list. “We have worked hard from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. yesterday to change the list, so I believed it would be passed,” Gong said. “Some may feel disappointed, but I will not quit my job.”

Gong said he didn’t expect the electorate to vote the list down. He also said he thought Hwang’s warnings were “political rhetoric.”

While Han has stepped down from the chairmanship, Gong said he will stay. “My goal is the opposition’s victory in the general election, and I will continue to revise the list until it helps,” Gong said. The candidate registration deadline is March 27.

Concerns are also grown that the UFP’s influence over the FKP’s nomination process could later be punished as a violation of election law.

Meanwhile, the UFP withdrew its nomination of Kim Won-seong as the candidate of Busan’s Buk-Gangseo B District. After he was awarded the candidacy, the Supreme Council asked the nomination committee last week to reconsider the decision. The committee at first refused, but told the Supreme Council recently that it had discovered some flaws. Suspicions of sexual crimes were raised against Kim after he won the nomination. Kim will be the second candidate to be retracted due to the Supreme Council’s disapproval. The nomination of Choi Hong, former CEO of ING Asset Management Korea, for Gangnam B District was withdrawn earlier this week over issues with the Financial Supervisory Service and questions about his relationship with the former head of the nomination committee. Gangnam B is known as a conservative stronghold.

BY SER MYO-JA, HAN YOUNG-IK [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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