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Liberty Korea Party’s panel recommends ejecting Park

Liberty Korea Party’s reform committee recommended Wednesday that the main opposition bloc request former President Park Geun-hye and two of her loyalists to leave the party, in an attempt to gain back public support.

“The Liberty Korea Party leadership cannot be free of liability on the current crisis of the conservatives,” Lew Seok-choon, the reform panel chief said at the party’s headquarters in Yeouido, Seoul.

“The party should ask former President Park Geun-hye to take responsibility over the party’s failure in last year’s local election and this year’s presidential election, by giving up her membership.”

If she does not heed the call, the party should cancel her membership, he added.

Lew went on to say that the main opposition party should take a leading role in promoting “new values” and gather the conservative factions together. 

He also advised the party to kick out two Park loyalists -- eight-term lawmaker Rep. Suh Chung-won and four-term Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan -- adding that they should bear the “heaviest responsibility” over the failure of the Park administration. 

Lew Seok-choon, head of the Liberty Korea Party's reform committee, speaks at a press conference at the party's head office in Yeouido, Seoul, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lew Seok-choon, head of the Liberty Korea Party's reform committee, speaks at a press conference at the party's head office in Yeouido, Seoul, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The 107-member conservative party has been struggling to win back the public since Park’s corruption scandal broke out in October last year. 

Previously the ruling Saenuri Party, it split into two after about 30 anti-Park lawmakers defected and established the splinter Bareun Party in January. 

Park is currently under arrest on corruption charges after the nation’s top court removed her from office in March. She was impeached by the National Assembly in December. 

To woo back the conservative defectors of the splinter faction, the reform panel also stressed that the party should “open the gate” for the lawmakers if they wish to return. The 20-member splinter party appears to be divided over the possibility of reunion. 

Party Chairman Hong Joon-pyo, who has called for Park’s departure, said the party would consider the panel’s recommendation seriously.

“We will make a decision before or after the verdict of Park’s first trial is delivered on Oct. 17,” he told reporters right after the reform committee’s announcement. 

The party’s regulations stipulate that if its ethics committee asks a member to leave, he or she has to respond in 10 days. If the member does not, his or her membership is automatically canceled.

Opinions are still divided within the party, as those opposing the move claim it is an attempt to remove the pro-Park faction from the party.

Although the former president did not react, Rep. Choi complained the panel’s recommendation is unjust and goes against the rule prohibiting double jeopardy, as his membership was suspended in January.

In Monday’s poll by Realmeter, the Liberty Korea Party garnered an approval rating of 16.7 percent following the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s 49.7 percent. The minor opposition Bareun Party stood at 6.3 percent while the far-left Justice Party and centrist People’s Party posted at 5.7 percent. 

By Jo He-rim (