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Internal Feuding Reemerges Within Main Opposition

Posted August. 28, 2009 03:40,   


Chronic internal feuds within the main opposition Democratic Party have reemerged after the death of former President Kim Dae-jung.

Party members are fighting over the order and manner of Kim’s desire for “integration of a democratic reform group.”

The party plans to embrace Kim’s followers. It will bring in his second son and former legislator Kim Hong-up, former party leader Han Hwa-kap, and former lawmaker Choi Jae-seung in that order. Han is expected to return to the party next month and Choi in early October.

A party source said, “We decided to bring them back in that order since Kim Hong-up was the chief mourner and has to observe the 49-day mourning period.”

More controversial, however, is the proposed return of party defector Chung Dong-young, the party’s former presidential candidate who bolted to run as an independent in by-elections after failing to get the party’s nomination for his district.

In a news conference announcing the party’s attendance at the regular parliamentary session next month, party leader Chung Sye-kyun said, “We will not focus on small things but will try to create a grand coalition.”

Chung Sye-kyun and his close aides, however, are said to be still unwilling to take Chung Dong-young back.

Many party members say selective acceptance is not in line with the idea of integration. The group “Democratic Seniors” will host a meeting to publicize the acceptance of independent legislators from North Jeolla Province including Chung Dong-young, Shin Kuhn and Yoo Sung-yeop as soon as the regular session begins.

Group leader Kim Sung-soon said, “There is no selective embracement when talking about grand integration.”

Some say the party’s leadership should change for the grand integration. Senior party member Park Joo-sun told a news conference at the Gwangju City Council, “The Democratic Party must give up all of its privileges for grand integration and must be determined to hold a national convention. The characteristics and the system of the Democratic Party must change.”

Party lawmaker Choo Mi-ae said in an interview with an Internet media, “We must embrace Chung (Dong-young’s) return. We must change the closed management system at the national convention.”

And another party member said, “We’ll see how the composition of the party’s integration committee will decide the scope and the depth of the party’s internal conflicts.”

Former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, who heads a party faction of supporters of former President Roh Moo-hyun, held a gathering to launch the movement “Democratic Integration Civic Activism” along with former opposition party legislators including Lee Chang-bok.

Party leader Chung plans to embrace Lee first but Lee reconfirmed that he will keep his distance from the party for the time being.

As the pro-Roh group diverges and internal conflicts intensify, some predict that the pledged integration of opposition parties will end up as a hollow slogan.