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Ruling party to decide on extra penalty for ex-Chairman Lee next week

Lee Yang-hee, chief of the ruling People Power Party's ethics committee, attends a committee meeting at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lee Yang-hee, chief of the ruling People Power Party's ethics committee, attends a committee meeting at the National Assembly in western Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) decided to hold an ethics committee meeting next week to decide on an additional penalty for former Chairman Lee Jun-seok over his harsh criticism of President Yoon Suk-yeol and the party, officials said Thursday.

The PPP held an ethics panel meeting Wednesday, but only suspended the party membership of Rep. Kim Sung-won for making insensitive remarks over flooding in Seoul and elsewhere caused by heavy rains last month.

The panel also decided to open a disciplinary process against former floor leader Rep. Kweon Seong-dong for holding a drinking party at the PPP's workshop last month despite the party's abstinence order and arousing criticism.

But the decision on the extra penalty for Lee was postponed to the next committee meeting set for next Thursday, according to committee chief Lee Yang-hee.

The committee launched a new disciplinary procedure against the former Chairman Lee last week, saying he used "insulting, reprehensive" expressions against party members and lawmakers "without objective grounds" and undermined unity and the party's prestige.

Observers say the committee may decide to expel Lee from the party at worst.

"I cried up wine and sold vinegar," Lee said in a press conference last month, referring to his advocacy for Yoon during the presidential election campaign.

In a handwritten petition to the court, Lee was also found to have referred to Yoon as "shingunbu," a term that was used to refer to a private group of military officers led by former President Chun Doo-hwan, who came to power through a coup and suppressed democracy movements.

The remarks came as Lee has openly gone up against President Yoon and his core associates since the PPP suspended Lee's party membership in July for six months over allegations of sexual bribery and an attempted cover-up.

Last week, police decided to drop the sexual bribery charges against Lee, citing the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Police, however, were continuing to look into charges that Lee tried to cover up the case.

Lee has claimed Yoon and his key associates plotted the suspension against him and filed a string of lawsuits to block the PPP from launching an emergency leadership committee, which automatically removes him from office. (Yonhap)

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