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S. Korea’s ruling party to hold national committee, shift to emergency leadership

The ruling People Power Party's acting chairman Kweon Seong-dong (Yonhap)
The ruling People Power Party's acting chairman Kweon Seong-dong (Yonhap)

The ruling People Power Party, which has been embroiled in an internal power struggle over its leadership, is expected to appoint interim party leaders soon.

The ruling party on Tuesday decided to convene a meeting of the party‘s national committee, in which it would discuss switching to an emergency leadership system, where they are also likely to appoint interim party runners.

A national committee meeting is expected to take place as early as Friday or next week.

Four out of seven Supreme Council members passed the motion to convene a national committee meeting. The four included acting chairman Kweon Seong-dong, the party’s chief policymaker Sung Il-jong and Reps. Bae Hyun-jin and Yoon Young-seok.

Two council members, Rep. Kim Yong-tae and Chung Mi-kyung, opposed the party’s dissolution and did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Kim criticized the validity of the votes cast by Bae and Yoon in particular, who earlier expressed intent to step down from the party’s top council yet did not submit their resignation letters. On Monday, suspended party chief Lee Jun-seok also criticized Bae and Yoon over participating in the Supreme Council’s vote, although they said they would withdraw from the council.

A spokesperson of the ruling party said Bae and Yoon are still eligible for the vote since their resignation letters have not been processed yet.

The ruling party has been in turmoil since last week when acting chairman Kweon unintentionally exposed text messages he exchanged with President Yoon Suk-yeol, in which the president was seen backbiting about suspended party chief Lee.

The incident has pulled Yoon‘s approval ratings to below 30 percent in some surveys. Kweon is known as one of Yoon’s closest confidants, and Yoon’s inappropriate meddling with the party affairs apparently triggered the drop.

After the incident, party members questioned Kweon‘s leadership and asked him to take responsibility for the incident.

On Sunday, Kweon announced that he would step down from the acting chairman post and proposed to switch to the emergency system.

Only 21 days after he took over the post, Lee had his party membership suspended for six months over allegations that he received sexual bribery from a businessperson in 2013.

Meanwhile, the presidential office on Tuesday released a statement stating that it hopes the ruling party will stabilize as soon as possible.

By Shim Woo-hyun (ws@heraldcorp.com)
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