“We committed a grave sin to our fellow citizens,” said Kim Jong-in, interim chief of the People Power Party, at a press briefing on Monday about two former Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye who are currently imprisoned. “Our party should have reflected on the past wrongdoings after the former president was impeached, but we didn’t,” he said, apologizing for the lack of reform in his party even after four years since the impeachment.
It is the first time in three years and nine months that a conservative party leader apologized since Liberty Korea Party head In Myeong-jin offered a public apology on March 10, 2017 when the decision to impeach former President Park was made. The two former presidents currently imprisoned were both conservatives.
The apology from the conservative opposite party to cut itself from the past came too late, but citizens are anticipating that the apology would become the starting point to reform the conservative party. It was engrossed in turf wars even after former President Park was impeached. It never unshackled itself from the bondage of old orders through which it tried to hold its vested rights and failed to cope with the change of time. As a result, it lost in three elections in a row including the 2017 presidential election, 2018 local elections, and 2020 general elections.
The apology should not be a one-off political event to appeal to centrists for the mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan in April. The Conservative party changed its name three times after Park was impeached to the Liberty Korea Party, the United Future Party, and the People Power Party. But citizens still do not think it has changed. It will never be able to earn public trust if it waits to profit from mistakes that the ruling party makes.
The conservative party should transition into a completely different group by splitting itself from extremists and cutting off from its old way of thinking. Only then, it will be able to stop the legislative monopoly of the ruling party and rectify the past wrongdoings.