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Main opposition accuses ruling party of framing Moon administration as ‘pro-North’

Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea’s emergency steering committee speaks at a press conference at the National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea’s emergency steering committee speaks at a press conference at the National Assembly on Sunday. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s main opposition party’s interim chief Rep. Woo Sang-ho on Sunday accused conservative ruling party of strategically framing the previous liberal Moon Jae-in administration as “pro-North Korea,” following a decision overturning the initial conclusion regarding a civil servant killed by North Korea.

“Instead of taking care of people’s livelihoods, (the incumbent Yoon Suk-yeol administration) is trying to create an image (of his predecessor) as having had succumbed to the North,” Rep. Woo, the leader of the Democratic Party of Korea’s emergency steering committee said in a press conference at the National Assembly.

On Thursday, the Coast Guard and the Ministry of Defense withdrew their earlier determination that Lee Dae-jun, a late Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries official, had sought to defect to the North. The authorities said they found no evidence of a defection.

Lee was shot dead in 2020 by North Korean troops at sea. At the time, when the preceding Moon Jae-in administration was in office, maritime and military authorities said the official was attempting to defect to the North when he was killed. The then-ruling Democratic Party of Korea also supported the idea.

Following the change in the conclusion last week, the ruling People Power Party said the then Moon Jae-in administration and the then ruling Democratic Party had wrongly accused late Lee of defection, in a bid to lighten Pyongyang’s fault in killing the official.

The People Power Party’s floor leader Kwon Seong-dong called on Sunday for the previous government and the Democratic Party to apologize for manipulation of the incident.

But the liberal opposition’s interim chief Rep. Woo insisted the latest change in view of the incident, is an intentional act of the ruling faction against the previous government and the now opposition party.

“We can only take stern measures to respond to the series of decisions (by the ruling bloc), which is seen as deliberate to pressure the oppposition party,” Rep. Woo said.

“In this situation where the main opposition party holds more seats (in the National Assembly) it is crucial for the ruling party to cooperate with the opposition in this time of economic crisis,” Rep. Woo said.

Currently, the Democratic Party holds a firm majority of 170 seats out of 300.

The late official’s family has said the Moon administration “hasn’t done anything (for the family),” and that the family has been “barred from knowing how he died, and what the government has or hasn’t done to protect him in his last hours.”

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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