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Ruling party chief to retire next month, write memoir

Ruling Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Hae-chan (Yonhap)
Ruling Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Hae-chan (Yonhap)
Ruling Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Hae-chan will retire from politics next month. A memoir recapping his 50 years of involvement in local politics, spanning from his days participating in pro-democracy student activism in the 70s, to turbulent partisan politics and the inner workings of the liberal Cabinet, is in the works.

Lee, 67, whose two-year term as the chief of the liberal party ends next month, will not be taking any official post in politics after that, as Lee pledged during the party’s leadership contest, party officials said Sunday. 

The seventh-term lawmaker is planning to publish his memoir by 2022. The book will contain his accounts of major political events and encounters throughout the country’s turbulent political history.

Lee, who first won a seat in the National Assembly in the 13th parliamentary elections in 1988, served seven terms as lawmaker. He also held Cabinet posts, including serving as culture minister under the Kim Dae-jung administration from 1998-1999 and as prime minister under the Roh Moo-hyun administration from 2004-2006. 

Even after retirement, many observers expect Lee to hold sway in party affairs as one of its most senior advisers, particularly with the next presidential election in 2022.

Under Lee’s stewardship, the ruling bloc had a landslide win in April’s general elections. The Democratic Party and its satellite Citizen Party together took 176 out of 300 seats in the unicameral parliament, the biggest majority a single party has ever claimed in Korea.

Lee is also expected to involve himself in inter-Korean relations after retirement. He has repeatedly shown interest in North Korea-related issues and expressed interest in serving as Seoul’s top envoy to Pyongyang in an interview earlier this year.

Since last month, Lee has also been serving as the chairman of the Northeast Asia Peace Economic Association, which was made to find ways for Northeast Asian countries, including North Korea, to economically cooperate.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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