Nearly 30 percent of incumbent lawmakers from the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea have been excluded from the nomination for next month's parliamentary elections.
As of Thursday, 30 out of 103 Minjoo Party legislators, or 29 percent, have failed to either receive party tickets or decided not to run for the April 13 general elections.
The Minjoo Party's election nomination committee virtually picked most of the candidates who will compete for the 253 parliamentary seats to be chosen through direct elections. The remaining 47 are proportional representation seats that will be allocated to parties according to the numbers of votes they receive overall.
The relatively high percent of the dropout is apparently due to the party's move to reform itself by excluding scores of incumbent lawmakers deemed incompetent from being nominated for candidacy.
The party vowed to take drastic measures to win back public support following a high-profile internal feud between former Chairman Moon Jae-in and scores of lawmakers who left the party to create the minor opposition People' Party.
Moon even stepped down and handed over full authority to the party's nomination committee and to Kim Chong-in, who has been tapped as the interim leader of the party.
Meanwhile Kim Han-gil, a senior member of the People's Party made up of lawmakers who bolted from Minjoo, announced Thursday that he will not run in the elections, saying he will take responsibility for failing to persuade the party's co-chairman Ahn Cheol-soo to join forces with the Minjoo Party.
"(I) have argued the need for the coalition of the opposition bloc. I decided not to run in the 20th general elections as a way of taking responsibility for failing to arrange a merger," Kim told reporters.
Kim, however, said he will stay with the party.
Earlier, Ahn declined the offer from Kim Chong-in, who stressed the need for a united coalition to tackle the ruling Saenuri Party.
Following a difference in views over the possible merger, Kim Han-gil stepped down from the head of the party's election planning committee.
The coalition offer was made more than two months after the People's Party was separated from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, the predecessor of the Minjoo Party.
Boo Jwa-hyun, who also failed to win a nomination from the Minjoo Party, joined the People's Party on Thursday, saying he could not accept the party's decision.
At present, the ruling Saenuri Party controls 155 seats in the 293-member National Assembly, compared to 103 seats held by the main opposition Minjoo Party. Ahn's People's Party controls 21 seats. (Yonhap)