Go to contents

Not-So-Smooth an Ending for Uri Party

Posted August. 20, 2007 03:02,   


The Uri Party, which was founded three years and nine months ago, finally ends its activities as a political party this week.

The Uri Party that decided to merge with the United New Democratic Party (UNDP) at the party’s convention held last Saturday has a meeting with the supreme council of the UNDP today, and the two parties will sign a merger agreement today. After the National Election Commission is officially informed, the Uri Party will be automatically dismissed.

However, given party members’ complaints over the validity of the party’s decision to merge with the UNDP, the process has been far from smooth.

In fact, just last Saturday, when the Uri Party held its convention at KINTEX, an exhibition and convention center located in Goyang, Gyeonggi, about 400 Uri Party members who disagreed with the party’s merger plans blocked other members from getting into the convention hall, shouting, “No Merger.” And there was violence between the dissenting members and staff members of the party.

Because of this, they couldn’t open the convention at 2:00 pm, the official opening time, and the 1,200 members who made it into the convention hall were not enough to meet quorum (5,200 seats) requirements for a vote. 30 minutes later, the convention was open and two hours later, 2,641 members (a majority) were finally present. As time dragged on, the dissenting groups shouted, “Let’s make the convention invalid,” and one member of this group even jumped into the platform and exclaimed, “No merger.”

Despite such resistance, the convention finally passed the bill for the merger with 2,174 votes in favor, 155 votes opposed, and 315 votes abstaining for the party’s merger.

However, the dissenting groups, including former South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Hyuk-kyu, lawmaker Kim Won-wung, and members of the Uri Party Protection Solidarity Group argued that, “The decision is invalid because, during the convention, the party leading members abruptly changed the quorum requirements from 5,347 to 5,200 seats.” Kim Hyuk-kyu even claimed that he would file a lawsuit over the matter.

Regarding this, the party’s vice secretary general Sun Byung-ryul said yesterday that, “We fixed the seats for quorum to 5,200 after excluding those who left the party and who have membership in other parties,“ adding, “Even if Kim files a suit against it, there will be no legal liability to us.”

Responding to this, Kim announced, “It is gross misconduct to change the seats for quorum that was decided the day before the convention just for their convenience,” adding, “In fact, I will step back this time and won’t take legal action because I don’t want to address an issue that has already been decided for political reasons.”

Meanwhile, the last Uri Party Chairman Chung Sye-kyun held a press conference at the party’s office located in Yeongdeungpo yesterday and, on the subject of the reasons for the Uri Party’s collapse, he said that, “Leading party members failed to keep a neutral position and didn’t know how to make proper communication with the public.” Chung also added that, “I believe that constructive criticism from the press was one of prerequisite elements to advertise the party’s policies and the party’s intentions, but we were not successful in generating any.”

tesomiom@donga.com mindy@donga.com