The ruling Democratic Party decided to revise its rules and officially nominate candidates for mayoral by-elections in Seoul and Busan in April, as a majority of party members voted in favor of the plan Monday.
The party’s constitution states that it cannot nominate any by-election candidates if the party caused the situation that made the by-election necessary.
The late Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon took his own life in July, and former Busan Mayor Oh Ke-don resigned in April amid sexual harassment allegations.
The party leadership said, however, that fielding candidates in the by-elections was unavoidable and put it to vote on Monday, when almost 87 percent voted in favor of the change.
The Seoul mayoral election is considered a major litmus test for the presidential election, which will be held the following year.
The main opposition party slammed the ruling party’s decision, accusing it of revictimizing the women who were allegedly sexually harassed by the late mayor and former mayor.
People Power Party interim leader Kim Chong-in said at a press conference Sunday that the ruling party must scrap its plan, saying that is “the least they can do” for the victims and the South Korean people.
“Even during the parliamentary audit, the DP has defended sexual violence by blocking all witnesses on the Park Won-soon and Oh Ke-don cases,” Kim said.
“Now they’re trying to go ahead with the candidate nominations in the by-elections, and it is just preposterous. What the DP must do now is repent and kneel in front of the victims and the people.”
Instead of repenting, the ruling bloc has focused on making Park a hero and revictimizing the victim by holding a large-scale memorial service for him, Kim said.
“Their partisanship has paralyzed reasoning and conscience.”
At the press conference, the People Power Party played a video clip showing President Moon Jae-in speaking at a 2015 rally for a local government by-election when Moon was party leader.
Moon said at the time that People Power Party precursor the Saenuri Party, as the party that caused the by-election, must not field a candidate.
“President Moon is trying to reverse the so-called ‘Moon Jae-in article,’ which was created while he was the party leader, Kim said, calling on the president to publicly take a position on the envisioned revision of the party rules.
“President Moon has not said anything specific about the sexual violence by the mayors of Seoul and Busan. It is an intended silence and can only be seen as an act of revictimization.”
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com