Following its joint speech session in Daejeon on Thursday, the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) held its first TV debate on Friday, featuring its party leadership candidates of Hwang Gyo-ahn, Oh Se-hoon, and Kim Jin-tae. The race for the party’s leadership that will be held at the party convention on Feb. 27 has started, but the candidates are frowned upon for being only interested in gaining votes instead of having a passion to lead the party with a clear future vision.
At the joint speech session in Daejeon, the candidates were busy expressing their position on disgraced former President Park Geun-hye. Being mindful of the recent controversy surrounding his betrayal of Park, Hwang did not mention anything about Park while Oh criticized the other two candidates as being “pro-Park” members. After stressing that he has been loyal to the former president, Kim Jin-tae received overwhelming support from the supporters that day. A fierce debate on the core values of the conservative party was put on the back burner with the age-old battle of the candidates’ relationship with former President Park Geun-hye.
Kim Jin-tae distanced himself from the recent controversy surrounding the May 18th pro-democracy Gwangju uprising made at an event, saying that he did not mention any of those comments, but as the host of that event, he should not be let off the hook so easily. Surprisingly, Kim was greeted enthusiastically by far-right supporters at the TV debate after the controversial event of the pro-democracy uprising. Moreover, the party leadership damaged the party’s foundation once again by its disciplinary action against three members involved with the Gwangju event, including Kim.
Due to these preposterous behaviors, the approval rating of the LKP fell 2 percentage points to the 10 percent range compared to two weeks ago, according to Gallup on Friday. The rating has been on the decline for four straight weeks, dropping 3.2 percentage points this week in the latest survey conducted by Realmeter. But the real problem is the remaining days until the party convention. If the party thinks the party convention is the event for themselves and keeps acting like “a big fish in a little pond,” it will see a further drop in its approval ratings. If they fail to present their visions for the future of the main conservative party, not only will not they have the desired impact from the party convention but also they will see more people turning their back on the LKP.