South Korea: 9 Bareun lawmakers decide to join LKP

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KOREAN NEWS AGENCY ‘JOONGANG DAILY’)

 

9 Bareun lawmakers decide to join LKP

Decision will give party 116 total, and trigger a political realignment  PLAY AUDIO

Nov 07,2017

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Nine lawmakers of the Bareun Party announce in the National Assembly on Monday that they will leave the minority conservative party to rejoin the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, triggering a political realignment ahead of next year’s local elections. [YONHAP]

Nine lawmakers of the Bareun Party declared on Monday their decision to leave the minority conservative party to rejoin the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), triggering a political realignment ahead of next year’s local elections.

The group of defectors issued the joint statement at a press conference in the morning at the National Assembly. In addition to Rep. Joo Ho-young, the party’s acting chairman, and floor leader, Reps. Kim Moo-sung, Kang Ghil-boo, Kim Young-woo, Kim Yong-tae, Lee Jong-koo, Hwang Young-cheul, Cheong Yang-seog and Hong Chul-ho are to leave the party.

“We are leaving the Bareun Party today to start a journey for a grand conservative unity,” Rep. Kim Young-woo said at the press conference. Except for Joo, eight lawmakers attended the event. They will complete paperwork to formalize their departures on Wednesday and join the LKP on Thursday. Joo will join next week after the Bareun Party elects a new leader.

“Having lost its balance, the conservatives are flustering and helplessly watching the Moon Jae-in administration’s violent and reckless operation of the country,” Kim said. “We cannot allow this unfortunate reality to continue any longer. For the sake of our country’s future, the conservatives must mend the rupture and unite.”

Kim said the lawmakers created the Bareun Party to revamp the tainted image of conservatives in the aftermath of President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment and corruption scandal, but that they failed to effect real change. He even said the Bareun Party is responsible for the split among conservatives.

The Bareun Party was launched on Jan. 24 by former Saenuri Party representatives who were disgruntled with pro-Park lawmakers’ unwavering loyalty to the former president in the days leading up to her impeachment on Dec. 9, 2016. The Saenuri Party later changed its name to LKP in an attempt to distance itself from the embarrassing political scandal.

It started with 33 lawmakers and elected Rep. Yoo Seong-min, a famous adversary of Park, as the new leader in March, and later as its candidate for the May presidential election. But it lost 13 lawmakers on the eve of the race, as they abandoned the party and its underdog candidate and declared their support for the LKP and its contender, Hong Joon-pyo. Yoo and Hong completed the presidential race, only to suffer crushing defeats to the liberal frontrunner, Moon Jae-in.

Left with 20 lawmakers, the Bareun Party barely managed to keep its status as a negotiation bloc inside the National Assembly. The latest mass defection, however, reduced the party to only 11 lawmakers, ending its 10-month life as a negotiation bloc.

When the mass defection of the nine lawmakers is completed, the LKP will have 116 lawmakers, the second largest in the legislature. The ruling Democratic Party has 121 lawmakers and the People’s Party has 40.

The Bareun Party elected Lee Hye-hoon as chairwoman in June, but she stepped down in September over a bribery scandal. The party scheduled a new leadership election for Nov. 13, while Hong repeatedly invited Bareun lawmakers to rejoin the LKP. Last week, Hong expelled Park and severed the LKP’s 20-year-long tie to the disgraced leader, clearing the final obstacle for Bareun lawmakers’ return.

The Bareun Party had a general assembly of lawmakers on Sunday, but the split was apparent. Those led by Rep. Kim Moo-sung wanted to go back to the LKP for a conservative merger, while others led by Rep. Yoo wanted to keep their own party.

Earlier in the morning, three candidates for the next week’s leadership convention including Reps. Jeong Woon-chun and Park In-sook said they will not run in the race. Speculations grew that the two lawmakers will also join the LKP. Several other lawmakers including Choung Byoung-gug, Kim Se-yeon, Oh Shin-hwan and Yu Eui-dong are also expected to eventually join the LKP.

Only three contenders, Reps. Yoo and Ha Tae-keung and former lawmaker Chung Moon-hun, will run in the leadership convention next week.

“No matter how many lawmakers choose to stay with us, my determination remains unchanged,” Rep. Yoo said. “I will try to unite the remaining 11 lawmakers and local chapter heads as well as other party staffers. I am trying to persuade as many people as possible to stay.”

He also said the party will go ahead and hold the leadership election as scheduled with the remaining three candidates.

“I feel pity for them, although their decision makes no sense to me,” Yoo said. “When we left the Saenuri Party last year, they were the first ones to leave, while I tried to stay there as long as possible and change it from inside. It is extremely piteous that they fail to respect our promise to build a new reformist road for the conservatives.”

As the Bareun Party’s experiment to become a new conservative force came to an end with a mass defection of key members, the National Assembly will be split between the conservative LKP and the liberal Democratic Party, while the People’s Party will play a role as casting vote.

The ruling Democratic Party Chairwoman Choo Mi-ae sneered at the Bareun Party’s split. “It is a move for selfish political survival without justification, public backing or integrity,” she said. Choo also said the LKP, even though it kicked out former President Park, is still a hotbed of corruption. “The expulsion alone cannot be redeemed for the LKP,” she said.

“Some Bareun lawmakers who supported the impeachment of Park are now kneeling before the LKP and rejoining it,” she said. “The Democratic Party will not be shaken by this artificial political restructuring. We will focus on legislative activities and budget passage for the sake of the country.”

The Democratic Party is still expected to seek a legislative alliance with the People’s Party against a reinforced LKP, as it does not have the majority in the legislature. Many People’s Party members were former Democrats, and observers said a liberal merger between the two parties, triggered by the conservative merger, is also possible before the June local elections.

The People’s Party is split about the Bareun Party’s move, given that its chairman, Ahn Cheol-soo, had previously pushed for a merger with the conservative minority party.

Just last month, leaders of the two parties explored a possible merger, as they were sanguine about poll outcomes on a new political consortium. The plan, however, met resistance by veteran members of the People’s Party including its former chairman, Rep. Park Jie-won. The mass defection of the Bareun lawmakers on Monday effectively killed the option.

“I am not a fortune teller, but I have said for a long time that the Bareun Party will split in November,” Rep. Park said in a post on his Facebook page.

He said the conservatives will merge with the LKP at the center. “President Moon will suffer the most because he won’t be able to push forward reform using laws and systems by not forming a coalition and ending up failing to overcome the legislative hurdles,” Park said, stressing the power of the party as the casting vote.

Ahn said it was unfortunate to see the split, but that he will continue to operate a policy alliance with the conservative minority.

BY SER MYO-JA [[email protected]]

Xi Jinping And Kim Jong Un Kiss And Make Friendly (Their True Face Shows)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NORTH KOREAN NEWSPAPER JOONGANG DAILY)

 

Xi responds to Pyongyang’s congratulations

Nov 03,2017

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Chinese President Xi Jinping called for sound and stable ties between Beijing and Pyongyang in a message to the regime’s leader Kim Jong-un, according to North Korean state-run media Thursday.

“I wish that under the new situation the Chinese side would make efforts with the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] side to promote relations between the two parties and the two countries to sustainable soundness and stable development,” Xi said in the message dated Wednesday, according to the North’s official news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), “and thus make a positive contribution to… defending regional peace and stability and common prosperity.”

Xi was responding to a congratulatory message sent by Kim for the successful conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party last week, and expressed his “sincere thanks” to the North Korean leader.

He went onto wish the North Korean people success in the “cause of socialist construction” under the leadership of Kim Jong-un.

Through the party congress, which comes every five years, Xi cemented his grip on power, emerging as possibly the strongest Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

In a short message on Oct. 25, Kim wished success to Xi and called for relations between North Korea and China to “develop in the interests of the peoples of the two countries.”

Xi’s message was also published on the front page of the North’s official Rodong Sinmun Thursday and comes as ties between North Korea and China have become more strained as Beijing partakes in international efforts to sanction the regime for its nuclear and missile weapons tests and threats.

Kim’s message was considered to be terser than previous ones, reflecting a coolness between the two governments. In the same way, Xi’s message to Kim Wednesday included cautionary terms, such as “defending regional peace and stability.”

The two leaders have yet to meet.

Kim last received a congratulatory message from Xi on July 11, 2016 – 16 months ago – to mark the 55th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between North Korea and China. It said the two countries planned to boost strategic understanding, promote exchanges and cooperation and continue to develop bilateral relations.

In June 2016, North Korean senior envoy Ri Su-yong headed a large-scale delegation to Beijing and personally delivered a message from Kim to Xi expressing the desire to bolster traditionally friendly relations between the two countries and explaining the results of the Workers’ Party’s seventh congress the previous month.

Xi’s message comes days ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia, which includes stops in Japan, South Korea and China. Trump, who visits China from Nov. 8 to 10, is expected to pressure Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea and push for a better balance in trade.

It also comes as Seoul and Beijing agreed to put bilateral relations back on a “normal track” after a year-long freeze over the deployment of a U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery in South Korea.

Analysts have pointed out that China is in an awkward position as North Korea continues to launch ballistic missiles and conduct nuclear tests – its latest and most powerful one to date on Sept. 3 – and Washington is demanding Beijing to use more influence on its neighbor.

As its relations have become more strained with China, North Korea has been cooperating more with Russia recently.

“Pyongyang and Beijing relations have become estranged as China has taken part in the international community’s sanctions against North Korea led by the United States,” a government official in Seoul pointed out, “and the exchange of messages on the occasion of the Chinese party congress can serve as an occasion to restore bilateral relations.”

North Korea expert Chin Hee-gwan, a professor at Inje University, told the JoongAng Ilbo Thursday that while Pyongyang and Beijing share an extremely intimate relationship, “The recent congratulatory message and response shows indications of restoration of relations, but the contents show that the usual emphasis of traditional friendly relations is missing. We will have to continue to watch for North Korea’s further provocations or China’s response.”

BY SARAH KIM, JEONG YONG-SOO [[email protected]]