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Hong offers to fully reinstate party defectors

May 08,2017
In a desperate attempt to unite conservative voters, Hong Joon-pyo, candidate of the Liberty Korea Party, said Sunday former President Park Geun-hye’s loyalists will no longer be punished.

“I have made a bold move yesterday to resolve the challenges of the party by reinstating the defectors in return for lifting Park loyalists’ punishment,” Hong wrote in a posting on his Facebook on Sunday. “I did so for the sake of the grand conservative unity to win the May 9 presidential election.”

Hong urged party members to “let go of bitter emotions against each other” and “participate in the politics of grand conservative unity.”

The Liberty Korea Party on Saturday restored the membership of 14 lawmakers, including 13 who abandoned the party earlier this year to create the Bareun Party but recently left it to support Hong. Rep. Jeong Kab-yoon, an independent lawmaker, will also be allowed to return to the Liberty Korea Party. The party also decided to end the suspensions of Reps. Suh Chung-won, Choi Kyung-hwan and Yoon Sang-hyun, key members of the party’s faction devoted to Park. In January, the party decided to suspend Suh and Choi for three years and Yoon for one year.

A suspended member is deprived of the right to cast votes in a party election or run for office for the party. Suh and Choi would have not been able to run in the next general election as Liberty Korea Party candidates, if the three-year suspensions continued.

Hong earlier made a request to hold an emergency council meeting to discuss and endorse his proposal, but the party leadership was reluctant to do so.

Hong pushed the deal forward by using Article 104 of the party’s constitution, which allows the presidential candidate ultimate power over party affairs during the campaign.

The opposition parties fiercely criticized the Liberty Korea Party and Hong. The Democratic Party, the People’s Party, the Bareun Party and the Justice Party said the Liberty Korea Party is responsible for Park’s abuse of power and corruption.

“It took just three months for the Liberty Korea Party to return to being a Park loyalists’ party,” said Rep. Yun Kwan-seok, public affairs chief for the campaign of Moon Jae-in, the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. “It certainly is an act suiting the breeding ground of corrupt forces.”

“The party should have been dismantled a long time ago, but it is now resurrecting itself with the help of regionalism,” he said. “Hong and the Liberty Korea Party are a disaster to the country and its people.”

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr ]