Opposition is growing within the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea to former party leader Lee Nak-yon’s push to create a new political party, with critics arguing the former prime minister is dividing the opposition ahead of April’s general elections.
Lee said last week he will leave the DPK and form a new party of his own early next year by joining forces with other third-party people not aligned either with the ruling People Power Party or the DPK so as to become the No. 1 party in the new National Assembly.
The unusually clear stance of Lee, long known for his noncommittal way of speaking, underlined his commitment to a new party, as some non-mainstream DPK members, including Lee, have openly raised objections to the way party leader Lee Jae-myung runs the DPK.
Since then, Lee has faced a strong backlash from within the party.
On Monday, a group of party members outside of the legislature, who are considered affiliated with Chairman Lee, strongly criticized the former leader’s envisioned party, accusing him of sacrificing the DPK for his “political desires.”
“(Lee) has dragged his career and the DPK’s name through the mud, and inflicted a huge wound to our seniors, proteges and our comrades,” said a member of the group in a press conference at the National Assembly. “The former leader is trying to create a political party without any cause, just for his useless political desires.”
Over the past five days, about 100 people have signed a petition calling for Lee to give up his plan.
While the majority view is critical of Lee’s new party, some suggest that the DPK leader should step up efforts to patch up the growing division in the party.
“I am critical of the push to create a new party, which could be a symbol of division, but I also cannot accept the party’s leadership watching the cracks grow, sitting with their arms crossed,” Rep. Park Yong-jin said in a Facebook post.
Chairman Lee is open to the possibility of meeting with Lee, the DPK’s chief spokesperson, Rep. Kwon Chil-seung, said in a meeting with reporters. (Yonhap)