PPP's leader takes pilgrimage to Roh's grave
The new chairman of the People Power Party (PPP) said the conservative opposition party will respect the philosophy of late former President Roh Moo-hyun, a liberal icon and the political mentor of President Moon Jae-in.
Taking a very big stride across the political aisle, PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok paid respects Friday at the grave of the liberal president in Bongha Village in South Gyeongsang. He also met with Roh's widow, Kwon Yang-sook, for about 40 minutes.
"We will incorporate and advance the ideas that the late Roh promoted, such as his attempt to reduce formality and his candid way of communicating with the people," Lee said.
He said he humbly regretted not showing proper respect to Roh amid the confrontation between major political parties. "I will follow the difficult path that Roh once walked," Lee said.
Roh, a human rights lawyer who was president from 2003 till 2008, committed suicide on May 23, 2009, apparently jumping from a cliff near his home in Bongha Village. His death came amid a prosecution investigation of a bribery scandal that tarnished his reputation.
Lee said Friday he will stop conservative politicians from exploiting Roh's death to smear liberals before next year's presidential election. "From now on, I will establish a culture inside our party that Roh will never be disparaged politically," Lee said.
Over the past years, some conservatives used Roh's suicide as an object of ridicule. Liberals, particularly those loyal to Roh, have also shown strong animosity toward the conservative party, holding President Lee Myung-bak accountable for the investigation that led to his death.
Meanwhile, the PPP's Lee is scheduled to have a series of meetings with conservative leaders including dinner with Hwang Kyo-ahn, former chairman of the United Future Party, predecessor of the PPP, on Friday.
He will meet with Kim Chong-in, former acting chairman of the PPP, next week. On Monday, Lee will have meetings with standing advisors of the PPP.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]