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Ex-democratic activist becomes new Minjoo whip

An activist-turned-politician Rep. Woo Sang-ho was elected as a floor leader of the main opposition party on Wednesday in a race against five to spearhead the party’s legislative negotiations in the new parliament opening later this month.

With Woo’s election, floor leaders of all three major parties have now been settled, as they face the joint challenge of regaining public trust in politics and seizing the lead in the legislative battle toward next year’s presidential race.

Rep. Woo Sang-ho, a prominent student protester from the democratic movements of the 1980s, will serve as a chief negotiator against the ruling Saenuri’s Chung Jin-suk and the People’s Party’s Rep. Park Jie-won. Woo, who will be serving his third term, will keep the post for a year and work alongside party leader Kim Chong-in until the party elects new leadership between July and August. 

The first order of business is to hammer out a deal over the allocations of seats for National Assembly’s speaker and high-profile parliamentary committees.

The 53-year-old politician won the runoff against another activist-turned-politician Rep. Woo Won-sik. Having come in second to Woo Won-sik, the new whip beat his competitor by 63 to 57 votes. Out of 122 members of lawmakers-elect, 120 casted their votes in the runoff election.

The new floor leader vowed to “unify” the liberal party by bridging differences among the factions. The former democratic activist is known to be close with the faction of the former party leader Rep. Moon Jae-in, but has got along well with non-Moon factions. 

The Minjoo Party's new floor leader Rep. Woo Sang-ho. Yonhap
The Minjoo Party's new floor leader Rep. Woo Sang-ho. Yonhap
“We will be united as one and win (the presidential elections,)” said the floor leader. “I urge fellow lawmakers to transform our party into the one that can win the people’s trust and achieve a change of government,” he said.

The new whip became a lawmaker in 2004 when the liberal Uri Party won the elections. Though he had failed to be reelected in 2008, he was elected in the 2012 and 2016 elections. He has served eight times as spokesman inside and outside the party.

By Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)
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