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[Newsmaker] Progressives anxious about Sohn’s next move

Sohn Hak-kyu
Sohn Hak-kyu
For the beleaguered Democratic Party, its senior adviser Sohn Hak-kyu has become one of only a handful of members that hold the key for its political countermove against its rivals.

Since losing last year’s presidential election, the DP has concentrated much of its resources on gaining leverage on the ruling party.

However, despite numerous opportunities, the DP has so far managed only to paint itself into increasingly tighter corners.

The issues surrounding the 2007 inter-Korean summit transcript has backfired and now threatens to bring figures with DP connections, including Rep. Moon Jae-in, under the scrutiny of the law. The DP’s plans to corner President Park Geun-hye with the National Intelligence Service’s alleged election interference have also achieved little.

With the situation standing as it does, Sohn became the top priority for the DP as soon as he returned to Korea from a eight-month research trip to Germany last month.

DP chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil has repeatedly requested Sohn to run for Gyeonggi Province’s Hwaseong A constituency against former Grand National Party leader Suh Chung-won.

Although many senior DP lawmakers have singled Sohn out as the only candidate who could take on Suh ― a long-time confidant of the president ― Sohn has voiced doubts about running in the upcoming by-elections saying that he was uncertain whether it was the right time while stating that he will give everything he has to “realizing politics of integration.”

While Sohn withholds his plans for the future, he is considered to have the potential to bring about a power shift within the progressive bloc.

Sohn has not only been critical in major reorganizations of the DP in the past, but he has also been linked on a number of occasions to independent Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, who is said to be laying the foundations for a powerbase of his own.

After leaving the GNP in 2007, Sohn was deeply involved in the founding of a new opposition party in collaboration with the factions that broke away from late President Roh Moo-hyun’s Uri Party.

Sohn was also instrumental in the formation of the Democratic United Party, which brought in minor progressive factions as well as civic activists.

By Choi He-suk (