UFP allows Cha Myong-jin to run in elections, despite provocative remarks

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UFP allows Cha Myong-jin to run in elections, despite provocative remarks

The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) decided Friday to allow a politician, who made claims that bereaved fathers of Sewol ferry victims and a volunteer had engaged in a threesome at a public space, to keep his candidacy for the next week’s general elections by giving a 10-day window for his expulsion.

The Ethics Committee of the UFP held a meeting in the morning to decide how to punish Cha Myong-jin, a former two-time lawmaker and the UFP’s candidate for Bucheon C District of Gyeonggi, for having disgraced the party with the provocative remarks.

The committee urged Cha to quit the party voluntarily, instead of expelling him immediately, despite UFP’s chief campaign manager Kim Chong-in’s promise during his public apology on Thursday that Cha will be kicked out.

Although the committee demanded that Cha leave the party voluntarily for now, he will eventually be expelled if he does not give up his membership within 10 days. Because the general elections take place in five days on Wednesday, Cha will be able to run as the party’s candidate in the constituency.

The committee said it decided to show some leniency to Cha, because he was trying to defend himself from vicious attacks by his rival, Kim Sang-hee of the ruling Democratic Party, during a debate.

Cha faced fierce criticism after quoting an Internet media report during a debate, broadcasted Wednesday, that fathers of two Sewol ferry victims and a volunteer had a threesome inside a tent erected at the Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul during their years-long protest to demand a thorough fact-finding investigation into the tragedy.

“Kim said those holding the Sewol ferry’s sinking sacred are men, while those not are animals,” Cha told the committee in a statement. “I revealed the [threesome] incident in order to protect the victims’ families from some people who are exploiting the tragedy to win power.”

After the committee allowed him to run as the UFP candidate in the next week’s elections, Cha expressed his appreciation in a Facebook message. “I will start my campaign activities immediately,” he said.

UFP campaign chief Kim, who demanded Cha’s expulsion, deplored the situation. “It is pathetic,” said Kim. “As the chief campaign manager of the UFP, I do not acknowledge Cha as a UFP candidate. Voters will make a wise decision.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore, because the elections are drawing near,” he said.

While showing leniency to Cha, the UFP’s Ethics Committee dismissed an appeal by Kim Dae-ho, former candidate of the Seoul’s Gwanak A District, to cancel his expulsion. Earlier this week, the party kicked Kim out for insulting younger voters and comparing the elderly to the people with disabilities.

Kim won’t be the UFP’s candidate for the Gwanak A District of Seoul, but his name will remain in the ballot. Any votes for Kim will be invalidated, the National Election Commission said.

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

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