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Supreme council member’s exit bodes ill for Saenuri leader

Rep. Kim Tae-ho on Thursday resigned from the ruling Saenuri Party’s supreme council, adding fuel to speculations over internal friction and chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung’s grip on the party.

On Thursday, Rep. Kim Tae-ho resigned from the party’s supreme council with an indirect attack on Kim Moo-sung.

“President Park has implored the National Assembly to pass economic stimulus legislation saying ‘now is the golden time,’” Kim Tae-ho said. 
Rep. Kim Tae-ho leaves the Saenuri Party conference room at the National Assembly after announcing his resignation from the supreme council on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Rep. Kim Tae-ho leaves the Saenuri Party conference room at the National Assembly after announcing his resignation from the supreme council on Thursday. (Yonhap)

“The parliament must look back at how it has responded. However, (lawmakers) threw salt at the president by saying that it was the ‘golden time’ for revising the Constitution.”

His expression was a reference to the traditional Korean practice of throwing salt at unwanted guests.

He added that President Park Geun-hye must be suffering “heavy heartache.”

Although Kim Tae-ho did not single out Kim Moo-sung, the party chairman had reignited talk of revising the Constitution earlier this month despite Park’s clear opposition to the idea.

At a press conference in Shanghai last week, Kim Moo-sung claimed that it would not be possible to stop discussions regarding the Constitution, and that related issues should be resolved well in advance of the next presidential election in 2017.

Kim Moo-sung, for his part, claimed that Kim Tae-ho’s decision was “somewhat incomprehensible” and that he would try to convince the two-term lawmaker to retract his resignation.

“I will meet (Kim Tae-ho) if contact is made,” Kim Moo-sung told reporters after the supreme council meeting, adding that he and other council members tried to dissuade him.

The party chairman is surrounded by rumors that his on-off alliance with the president is once again under strain.

Since Kim Moo-sung’s comments on the Constitution, speculation has risen that the president has taken offense and that her sudden drive to reform the civil servants’ pension system has a dual purpose.

The pension reform drive has been interpreted by some as an attempt by the Park administration to stifle the Constitution issue while at the same time completing a task that past administrations have failed to carry out. In addition to their differing positions on the Constitution, Kim Moo-sung has effectively rejected Cheong Wa Dae’s drive to complete the pension reform within the year. The Saenuri Party chairman has said on several occasions that the timeframe set by the president is infeasible. He has also said he will propose an alternative reform plan.

Despite numerous reports of friction and apparent disagreements with the president on key issues, Kim Moo-sung has denied any changes in ruling party-Cheong Wa Dae relations.

“Key opposition figures criticize the president and say things that encourage conflict between Cheong Wa Dae and the Saenuri Party, but there is no truth about party-Cheong Wa Dae friction,” he said.

“Describing discussions (between the Saenuri Party and the presidential office) as discord and confrontation is an inferior (type of) political attack.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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