The Korea Herald


Reeling from election loss, ruling party picks new leader posts

By Kim Arin

Published : Oct. 16, 2023 - 17:42

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People Power Party leader Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon attends a party meeting on Monday at the National Assembly building in Yeouido, central Seoul. (Yonhap) People Power Party leader Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon attends a party meeting on Monday at the National Assembly building in Yeouido, central Seoul. (Yonhap)

The ruling People Power Party, confronted with a deepening crisis following a landslide defeat in a key district by-election, on Monday introduced new leaders to helm key seats.

With Monday’s shuffle, the post of the secretary-general is now held by the National Assembly interior committee’s executive secretary Rep. Lee Man-hee and the director of the party-run think tank Yeouido Institute and two-time lawmaker Rep. Kim Sung-won among other changes. Excluded from the latest shake-up are the chairperson, floor leader, and other elected positions from the party convention in May.

The defeat in the Seoul district spawned calls for change within the party.

In a press conference Monday, a tearful plea came from disgraced former People Power Party chair Lee Jun-seok, who was removed in October last year over a sexual bribery scandal. The party’s ethics committee suspended him for a year following allegations he accepted sexual favors from a businessperson and then tried to cover it up.

Speaking to reporters, Lee took a jab at President Yoon Suk Yeol, claiming that the president was standing in the way of the party’s progress. Ahead of the party convention in March, the axed chair had compared the president to a school bully.

“There is no way our party could win the next general election without the president changing the way he is running things,” he said. “The party is not a puppet of the president, and yet no one in the party is calling him out on that.”

Oh Se-hun, the mayor of Seoul, said the same day that his party must stay away from bickering and focus on improving the lives of low-income and middle-class South Koreans. “To win the Assembly, the party has to prioritize solutions for the concerns of middle-class and the economically vulnerable,” he said.

In the Oct. 11 by-election for Seoul’s western district of Gangseo, the People Power Party candidate Kim Tae-woo lost by a crushing margin of 17 percentage points to his Democratic Party of Korea rival Jin Gyo-hoon.

The Seoul district election is regarded as a preview of the 2024 general election, where the ruling party is seeking to reclaim the majority of the Assembly. The current Assembly’s majority is held by the Democratic Party, outnumbering the People Power Party by 168 to 111.

The ruling party leaders have stressed the importance of winning the upcoming election as one that will allow them to gain control of the Assembly once again. In a party meeting Sunday, the party chair Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon said he would “put his political life on the line” for victory next year.