Democratic Party Chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil is facing his biggest challenge since his appointment in May, squeezed between the Saenuri Party and hard-liners in his own ranks in an escalating political row over the National Intelligence Service.
Since he took office in May, the main opposition changed its name and its constitution has taken a more moderate direction.
The revised version includes clauses regarding national security and North Korean human rights, which have been thorny issues for the DP, whose previous leaders had focused on improving inter-Korean relations. The revised party constitution also approaches economic issues including free trade agreements, university tuition fees and reconstruction projects from a more moderate angle.
The DP’s efforts to become more moderate and suppress factionalism appeared at first to be on track. However, DP hard-liners are said to have been increasing the pressure on Kim as issues surrounding the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea engulfed the parliament.
The DP’s decision to launch a street campaign over the parliamentary probe into the National Intelligence Service is also thought to have been a result of the hard-liners putting pressure on Kim.
Since Aug. 1, the DP has been operating out of a tent set up in central Seoul, and has held rallies to push its agenda.
Up until the end of July, however, DP leaders appeared to be seeking a way out of the controversy, with Kim apologizing to the public for having a hand in causing the deadlock.
Along with the street campaign, which the ruling party has condemned as a political ploy and self-destructive act, Kim has made increasingly bold moves.
On Friday and Saturday, Kim openly called on President Park Geun-hye to hold a one-on-one meeting with him. Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea then suggested on Monday that the chairmen of the two parties meet with Park, which the presidential office responded to by calling for the inclusion of the floor leaders of the two parties.
On Wednesday, Kim rejected her offer of five-way talks, while agreeing to the three-way talks suggested by Hwang.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org