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Conservative, liberal pundits battle it out in YouTube debate

Rhyu Si-min and Hong Jun-pyo on Monday took to social media to debate social and political issues, confirming the deep divide in the views of the liberal and conservative blocs on most issues.

A video of the debate, uploaded on Rhyu’s and Hong’s platforms late Monday, has been viewed nearly 1 million times. 

Hong Jun-pyo (left) and Rhyu Si-min. (Yonhap)
Hong Jun-pyo (left) and Rhyu Si-min. (Yonhap)

Rhyu, who served as environment minister under the late President Roh Moo-hyun, is currently the chairman of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation. Hong is a former presidential candidate and provincial governor.

Both Rhyu and Hong have taken a step back from politics -- with the former declaring retirement from politics -- but they have risen as champions of their respective blocs’ views on social media.

Rhyu’s current affairs program is broadcast through the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation’s YouTube channel, often garnering tens of thousands of views. Hong runs his own YouTube channel, titled Hongca Cola.

In their first joint broadcast, Hong and Rhyu discussed major issues in the country, ranging from the ideological divide and polarization of society to the economy and denuclearization of North Korea.

As expected, the two voiced opposing views on most issues. Rhyu echoed the Moon Jae-in administration’s views, while Hong reiterated conservative views and criticized the administration.

On the issue of North Korean denuclearization, Rhyu said that North Korea wouldn’t need to maintain its nuclear weapons if regime security is guaranteed. Rhyu also said that there cannot be a solution if the North Korean leadership is depicted as a “monstrous and irrational group” in South Korea.

Hong hit back with the conservative rhetoric that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would not give up nuclear weapons, as such a move would lead to the collapse of the regime.

President Moon’s policies and statements also made the agenda. Hong honed in on Moon’s referring to those attacking the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement as “descendants of dictators.”

The comment was made last month in response to a series of controversial statements about the 1980 event by conservative lawmakers.

Hong also took issue with former Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye being on trial, saying that Moon may also face such a future if the ruling party fails to take power in the next presidential election.

Rhyu and Hong, however, did agree that the conservative bloc has leadership issues. Rhyu claimed that Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn’s style was reminiscent of political leaders from “several decades ago” implying that Hwang was adding to social discord.

For his part, Hong stayed away from directly criticizing Hwang but said the Liberty Korea Party should be doing more to keep the Moon administration in check, while cooperating with the administration in other areas.

By Choi He-suk (