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Yoon to skip public debate amid clash between presidential office, ruling party chief

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 22, 2024 - 10:25

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) and Han Dong-hoon, interim chief of the ruling People Power Party, shake hands during a gathering for the new year at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 3, 2024. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol (left) and Han Dong-hoon, interim chief of the ruling People Power Party, shake hands during a gathering for the new year at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 3, 2024. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol skipped a government-public debate scheduled for Monday, triggering speculation as to whether the decision was related to a clash between the presidential office and the ruling party chief.

The presidential office sent a notice to reporters half an hour before the start of the debate that Yoon had no events on his public schedule for the day.

The debate was the fifth in a series of sessions on people's livelihood issues and Yoon had led all previous sessions. Monday's debate was led by Government Policy Coordination Minister Bang Ki-seon.

The notice from the presidential office came shortly after Han Dong-hoon, the leader of the ruling People Power Party, confirmed to reporters he had been asked by Yoon's office to resign but rejected the request.

The presidential office reportedly made the request amid tensions between the two sides over how to handle allegations first lady Kim Keon Hee received a luxury bag as a gift in 2022, an issue seen as damaging to the ruling party ahead of the parliamentary elections in April.

Han has long been considered one of Yoon's closest confidants since their time as prosecutors.

A presidential official said Yoon's absence was caused by health issues, as the president had felt symptoms of a cold since the morning.

"He decided not to go because it didn't seem appropriate to speak at an open event attended by the general public," the official told Yonhap News Agency.(Yonhap)