Go to contents

Ex-Lawmaker Lee Jae-oh to Snub Politics for Time Being

Posted March. 30, 2009 09:27,   


Former ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Jae-oh has returned to Korea after a self-imposed exile of 10 months in the United States following his defeat in the parliamentary elections in April last year.

Without announcing his return even to his family, he arrived at Gimpo International Airport on a Korean Air flight Saturday after stopping over at Japan the previous day. Only his former secretary and driver greeted Lee at the airport.

In Tokyo, Lee visited the grave of Lee Soo-hyun, a Korean who was killed while saving a drunk Japanese man from a subway track in 2001.

The former lawmaker headed to his Korean hometown of Yeongyang, North Gyeongsang Province, immediately after his arrival in Korea. After one night’s stay, he visited his ancestors’ graves at his family’s burial ground.

Yesterday he paid homage to the late Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan at the clergyman’s grave in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.

In a phone interview with The Dong-A Ilbo, Lee said, “I will leave politics to incumbent lawmakers. I want to help ease the burden of the economic crisis on our people.”

“I plan to focus on lectures if I receive invitations from schools and write a book. I want to see how things go around in the government from outside. Now that I have some free time, I want to come up with future strategies for our nation and delve into topics such as peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.”

On if he will return to politics, he said, “I need to think about what future actions can bring hope to our people. I will focus on economic issues and distance myself from domestic politics for the time being.”

On reconciliation within the ruling party, he said, “I don’t know what’s going on inside the party since I’ve been away for a long time. But I believe it’s time to get over past conflict and look into the future united as one.”

“Drawing a line between pro-Lee Myung-bak and pro-Park Geun-hye (former party chairwoman) coalitions would be absurd.”

On if he talked to President Lee Myung-bak on the phone around the time of his return, he said, “I haven’t talked him since my return to Korea.”

Lee Jae-oh declined to say if he will run in the parliamentary by-election in October. “It would be too early to discuss that issue when the constituency (Eunpyeong-eul in Seoul) in question has an incumbent lawmaker. I haven’t given much thought to running in the election yet.”

One of his confidants said, “Lee is likely to opt for ‘silent politics’ for the time being and refrain from making comments on political issues.”