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Liberty Korea Party seeks to expel Park before Chuseok

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party is moving to remove former President Park Geun-hye from its ranks before Chuseok holidays, in a bid to raise ratings before the local election slated for June next year.

As the national holiday, which falls on Oct. 4, is the time for family gatherings in Korea, the party seeks to prevent negative sentiment shared among voters over their party’s connection with the embattled former president.

Liberty Korea Party chairman Hong Joon-pyo has been calling to cut ties with Park, who is currently on trial on charges related to the corruption scandal that led to her impeachment. 

Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hong Joon-pyo passes by a picture of the former President Park Geun-hye and her father and a former dictator Park Chung-hee at a memorial hall in April. (Yonhap)
Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hong Joon-pyo passes by a picture of the former President Park Geun-hye and her father and a former dictator Park Chung-hee at a memorial hall in April. (Yonhap)

“We should now let go of Park and let her become an individual, not a politician,” Hong said in a conference in the southern city of Busan on Sunday.

While Hong has repeated similar remarks, the opinion is divided inside the party with those opposing the move saying it is an attempt to remove the pro-Park loyalist faction from the party.

Hong, mindful that it could lead to a factional dispute, had been careful to add that he believes that the Constitutional Court’s ruling to oust Park was wrong.

The nation’s top court had ruled to remove the former state chief from office on March 10, following her impeachment by the National Assembly in December. She was later arrested on charges of corruption, coercion and allowing her confidante Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs.

“The best solution to the problem would be that Park settles the situation on her own (by quitting the party),” the party’s Floor Leader Rep. Chung Woo-taik said on Monday.

The party is reviewing several choices, including recommending her to quit the party to take Park’s membership without facing much criticism from her supporters.

The party regulation stipulates that if the ethics committee passes to recommend one to defect, the person has to respond in 10 days. If they do not, their membership is automatically taken.

In the latest survey by Realmeter, Monday, the conservative party garnered 14.9 percent of support from 2,529 respondents, trailing after the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s 51.8 percent.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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