Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo, one of the ruling camp’s presidential hopefuls, expressed his intention to join the Grand National Party’s leadership contest on Tuesday.
The former third-term lawmaker said that should all the other presidential hopefuls join the race, he would throw his hat in the ring to “save the party,” now faltering after its recent by-election defeat. The leadership contest is slated for late June or early July.
His remarks came as a surprise given that Kim has largely remained silent over whether he would take any key party posts since being re-elected Gyeonggi governor last June.
“Park Geun-hye, Lee Jae-oh, Chung Mong-joon, Oh Se-hoon and all the other (presidential hopefuls) should come forward to save the party. Then, I will come forward, too,” he said in the interview with the local daily Chosun Ilbo.
Government officials and lawmakers attend a Buddhist ceremony in celebration of Buddha’s Birthday in Jogye Temple in Jongno, Seoul on Tuesday. From left are Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, Democratic Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu, Culture Minister Choung Byoung-gug, Grand National Party lawmaker Cho Yoon-sun, GNP lawmaker Park Jin, GNP floor leader Hwang Woo-yea and DP lawmaker Chung Sye-kyun. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
“When the public start to discuss the roles of presidential runners, I will willingly join any (intra-party) competition whether that may be a leadership contest or others. I mean that I will run the fair competition with a vision to save the party and nation.”
Kim also said that former chairwoman Park Geun-hye should play an active role for the country and the party, noting that she has kept a low profile on the political scene despite her sizable political prowess.
Park, daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, is one of the favored factional leaders in the GNP. She commands the loyalty of a third of GNP lawmakers and is currently leading in all popularity polls.
“She has many roles to play for the nation, the party and the society. However, she has been only cautious in her actions,” he said. “She should unveil her vision for the future of the party and exert her leadership.”
He attributed the current crisis facing the ruling party to long-standing factional divisions. The party is split by several factions ― those led by Park, a group of reform-minded young lawmakers and those loyal to President Lee Myung-bak ― a faction that has recently been split into two groups led by Lee’s elder brother Rep. Lee Sang-deuk and Special Affairs Minister Lee Jae-oh.
“For the past three years since the presidential election ended, the party has been divided into pro-Park and pro-Lee factions. Now, we also have pro-Lee factions divided into two,” said Kim.
“This is not a party. We will die when we are divided. We will survive when we stick together.”
By Song Sang-ho (email@example.com