Independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo announced Friday that his new party would be named People’s Party (English name provisional), as preparations for the launch gained momentum.
Earlier in the day, two cochairmen for the preparatory committee were named. Yoon Yeo-joon, a former health minister and senior conservative lawmaker, became the latest to join Ahn’s faction after accepting his request to head the preparation committee for a new opposition party to be launched early next month.
Yoon, who has held various roles in both conservative and progressive parties for the past years, had refused to accept Ahn’s offer repeatedly citing his frail health, but finally accepted due to Ahn’s persistence, Ahn’s aide told reporters.
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo (from right), professor Han Sang-jin and Rep. Kim Han-gil attend a meeting in Seoul on Friday. Yonhap
Yoon will cochair the preparation committee, which will be officially launched Sunday, with Han Sang-jin, professor emeritus at Seoul National University. The left-wing scholar reportedly accepted Ahn’s offer on Thursday over lunch.
Earlier in the day, Ahn and other former members of the main opposition party including Rep. Kim Han-gil, Moon Byung-ho, Kim Dong-chul and Hwang Joo-hong gathered in central Seoul for their first meeting since leaving the party, to discuss their plans.
Recruitment of new faces also continued as Ahn stepped up work to establish a third political party with floor negotiating power by next month.
“The biggest problem facing Korea is that the nation’s top talents are not in the position to solve the nation’s crisis. I will try to change the current structure in which respectable figures are missing opportunities to serve the public in the face of the existing political force,” Ahn said in the meeting.
Han, a cochair of the committee, also said that the most crucial task is to bring an era of cooperation and reconciliation in the society riddled with political strife and hostility.
With Ahn’s camp picking up the pace, the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea was scrambling to contain the fallout following a series of defections by its lawmakers.
Since Ahn left the Minjoo on Dec. 13, 10 other lawmakers including party cofounder Rep. Kim Han-gil have followed suit, reducing its number of parliamentary seats to 117 in a 300-member Assembly.
The latest to join Ahn’s faction was Rep. Kim Young-hwan.
“The Minjoo Party has lost its hope of change of the government for too long. I am leaving the party in accordance with my conscience,” he said Friday.
In a survey by pollster Gallup of 1,021 adults nationwide on Jan. 5-7, the Ahn’s new party in-the-making took lead in the opposition bloc. It received a 21 percent approval rating, ahead of the Minjoo Party’s 19 percent. The ruling Saenuri party scored 35 percent, a drop of 4 percentage points.