Telling all from an ex-chairman’s seat

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Telling all from an ex-chairman’s seat

Choi Min-woo
The author is a political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
Former Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Hae-chan recently published a memoir. The book was written in a form of dialogues with former Rep. Choi Man-hee and the 560-page memoir discussed Lee’s experiences since he was a student activist and after he entered politics in 1988.
The most interesting part of the book was an epilogue that analyzed the March presidential election. Lee analyzed that the DP had lost because the voters increasingly cast ballots for their interests and classes. “The desire for real estate assets was in the background and the voters’ perception became more conservative,” Lee wrote.
He also wrote that the establishment united and attacked the DP’s candidate Lee Jae-myung. “The prosecution, media and bureaucrats were largely controlled by the second-generation of the wealthy establishment,” he wrote. “Someone like [Justice Minister] Han Dong-hoon is the center of the cartel.”
Lee Hae-chan, former chairman of the liberal Democratic Party, makes remarks at a meeting with DP lawmakers in the National Assembly on Sept. 22. [YONHAP]

Lee Hae-chan, former chairman of the liberal Democratic Party, makes remarks at a meeting with DP lawmakers in the National Assembly on Sept. 22. [YONHAP]

Lee is a former seven-term lawmaker who served in top posts including prime minister, education minister and chairman of a political party over the past 30 years. Who is stronger than politician Lee Hae-chan? It is no wonder that Han criticized former student activists as being the “true cartel of the establishment in our country.”
Former Chairman Lee made an appearance on the YouTube channel, “Alileo,” on Thursday and said the DP was defeated because it lacked desperation. “The rival had more desperation that it must win this time,” Lee said. “They believed that the presidency was taken away by the impeachment, so they were desperate to win it back. We lost absurdly.”
He, however, spoke highly of DP Chairman Lee Jae-myung. “It’s a pity that he lost,” Lee wrote in the memoir. “No politicians have lived a life like Lee Jae-myung.”
Lee also wrote that the prosecution did not investigate corruption allegations surrounding Yoon Suk-yeol although there was evidence. “In contrast, allegations surrounding Lee Jae-myung were amplified when there was no evidence,” he wrote. “The party had to move forward with Lee Jae-myung at the center.” It seems that was the real message of his memoir.
Rumors were once rampant that Lee Haechan and Lee Jae-myung had formed an alliance, and it became an established fact that Lee Haechan loyalists became key members in the Lee Jae-myung leadership. Rep. Cho Jeong-sik, who reorganized former Chairman Lee’s supporters’ organization into Lee Jae-myung’s organization during the latest presidential campaign, became the DP’s secretary general. Rep. Kim Sung-whan, who served as former Chairman Lee’s chief of staff, is serving as chief policymaker of the party. Rep. Lee Hae-sik, who served as the party’s spokesman in 2018 when Lee Hae-chan was the chairman, was named deputy secretary-general of organization.
And Lee Hwa-young, former vice governor of Gyeonggi Province for peace affairs, is an important figure who cannot be left out in the discussion of the relationship between Lee Hae-chan and Lee Jae-myung. As stated in the memoir, Lee Hwa-young is one of the closest allies of Lee Haechan. He accompanied Lee Hae-chan when he visited North Korea in 2006.
After Lee Jae-myung was elected Gyeonggi governor in 2018, he created the post of vice governor of peace affairs and appointed Lee Hwayoung, and political observers said it was a move to woo then-Chairman Lee Hae-chan because Lee Jae-myung was a non-mainstream member of the party. Currently, the prosecution is seeking to detain Lee Hwa-young on charges of receiving 400 million won of bribes from the Ssang Bang Wool Group.
Former Chairman Lee is known for having a short temper, as an episode from two years ago shows. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon committed suicide after he was accused of having sexually harassed a secretary and Lee paid a visit to Park’s mourning altar as chairman of the DP. “Suspicions were raised against the late mayor, and will the party officially respond to the scandal?” a reporter asked. “How dare you ask such a question?” Lee furiously reacted. After staring at the reporter for a few seconds, Lee swore at him.
It was done in public and the news about his swearing spread, but he had never apologized. Of course, it was never mentioned in the memoir either. It is amazing to see DP politicians fiercely attack President Yoon after he was overheard on a hot mic seemingly insulting U.S. lawmakers. Only shameless politicians last a long time.
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