Democratic Party adviser Sohn Hak-kyu continues to be a major factor for the progressive bloc despite his absence and apparent intention to “rest.”
After losing the DP’s presidential primaries to Rep. Moon Jae-in last year, Sohn maintained a relatively low profile, and in January left for Germany to research welfare and labor issues.
However, Sohn has been linked to Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo on a number of occasions, with speculations rising that the two may be planning an alliance.
Although the rumors were denied, the view was bolstered when Korea University professor emeritus Choi Jang-jip was chosen as the chairman of the board for Ahn’s think-tank Policy Network Tomorrow in May.
Choi, who has since quit the post, is a key supporter of Sohn. In addition, the former DP leader and Ahn are said to share common views on a number of issues including progressive liberalism and its application in Korea.
On Aug. 23, Sohn took a short break from his stay in Germany to attend the funeral of his sister-in-law.
The funeral was attended by political heavyweights including Ahn, who told the former DP leader that the political arena was in need of his “insight.”
Despite the relatively forward comment from Ahn ― whose short political career has been marked by numerous ambiguous comments ― Sohn avoided making his intentions known saying only that he was “just resting.”
Regardless of Sohn’s intentions, he is considered to have the potential to give the DP a boost due to his involvement in major power shifts within the progressive bloc since leaving the Grand National Party in 2007.
At the time, when he was considered to be a potential GNP presidential candidate for the 2007 election, he opted to leave the conservative bloc and played a key role in the founding of a new opposition party in collaboration with the factions that broke away from late President Roh Moo-hyun’s Uri Party.
Sohn was also instrumental in the formation of the Democratic United Party, which brought in minor progressive factions as well as civic activists.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com