Reformists desert UPP to create new party

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Sept 13, 2012 - 20:48
  • Updated : Sept 13, 2012 - 20:49
Departure of three leaves progressive party with only six lawmakers

Three prominent lawmakers of the minority Unified Progressive Party on Thursday said that they will leave the feud-ridden party to join a movement to create a new political party.

The departure of Reps. Sim Sang-jeung, Roh Hoe-chan and Kang Dong-won would reduce the number of the UPP’s lawmakers to six.

“Today, we leave the UPP in an aim to pursue true values of progressive politics and better communication with the people,” Sim said in a news conference.
The Unified Progressive Party’s reformist leaders meet on Thursday morning. From left are Roh Hoi-chan, Sim Sang-jeung, Kang Dong-won and Rhyu Si-min. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Former co-chairs Rhyu Si-min and Cho Jun-ho also pledged to leave the party in a meeting of reformist members earlier in the morning.

Roh, who had left the New Progressive Party earlier this year to join the UPP, apologized to the people for yet another defection.

They will have further discussions on the creation of a new party and presidential election plans in the reformists’ meeting this Sunday.

Former party chief and reformist Kang Ki-kab quit the party on Monday, expressing frustration at the failure to reform and reunite in the face of resistance from a far-leftist faction, whose members were accused of election fraud.

Speculations rose that the UPP defectors will first kick off a new political party and then consider merging it with the main opposition Democratic United Party.

Observers, however, noted that the far-leftist politicians will not easily blend in to the center-left DUP and that they may choose to remain independent.

The UPP emerged as the third-largest party after it won 13 seats through the April parliamentary elections. But it was soon caught in a months-long factional feud over allegedly rigged votes for its proportional representatives.

Reformists pressed that two lawmakers involved in the scandal leave the party. They rejected the demand blaming the leadership for an allegedly biased investigation.

The duo are responsible for alienating voters in a whirlwind of controversy over their past pro-North Korea activities.

Former party co-chair Lee Jung-hee, associated with the far-left group, recently hinted at her intention to run in the December presidential election, once again irking the reformist members.

By Bae Hyun-jung (