The floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party came under fire Thursday after it was reported that she had expressed concerns to the US that holding a US-North Korea summit before South Korea’s general elections might have a negative impact.
On Wednesday, a local broadcaster reported that Rep. Na Kyung-won had asked US officials not to hold a US-North Korea summit before April 15, when South Korea’s general elections will take place.
The US officials reportedly included US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and former US national security adviser John Bolton.
Floor leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party Rep. Na Kyung-won (Yonhap)
Following the report, the four-term lawmaker issued a statement reiterating her position.
“The Liberty Korea Party welcomes holding the US-North Korea summit to resolve the denuclearization issue,” Na said in the statement. “But the first summit in Singapore that was held just a day before (South Korea’s) local election in 2018 greatly influenced the results.”
If the third US-North Korea summit is held just before next year’s elections, it will not only greatly threaten South Korea’s national security but also distort the purpose of the summit, Na said.
The first US-North Korea summit was held in Singapore on June 12, the day before South Korea’s mayoral and gubernatorial elections.
The Liberty Korea Party saw a crushing defeat in the elections, with the ruling party winning 14 out of the 17 mayoral and gubernatorial posts. The main opposition party won only two seats in its traditional strongholds of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province.
Commenting on Na’s remarks, Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Ko Min-jung said she could not believe her ears.
“Not only do I feel disappointment but also anger at how Na feels no shame, acting blameless, about her remarks. I want to ask her if she is a citizen of Korea,” Ko said Wednesday.
With the exception of the Liberty Korea Party, parties across the aisle criticized Na, labeling her as a “national disgrace.”
“Making remarks that would block peace on the Korean Peninsula to win an election. I want to ask if (the Liberty Korea Party) is a traitor faction that sells national security for its own victory,” Lee Hae-chan, the ruling Democratic Party’s chairman, said in a party meeting Thursday.
“The US-North Korea summit is an important agenda (item) for South Korea. The (denuclearization) summit and general elections are separate issues, and it does not make any sense to ask (the US) to consider these two (factors) in holding a summit,” said Rep. Oh Shin-hwan, floor leader of minor conservative opposition Bareunmirae Party.
Na lashed back at the criticism, saying it was reasonable to criticize summits held just for show.
“This administration is only using the North Korea issue for its election, and I was just telling this truth to US officials, to not be fooled (by the Moon administration),” Na said.
“It is true that nothing much was achieved as a result of the first US-North Korea summit.”
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)