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Main opposition kicks off election to pick new head

All Headlines 13:01 August 27, 2016

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Aug, 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea kicked off a convention on Saturday to select a new leader, with the outcome set to lay the foundation for next year's key presidential race.

Rep. Choo Mi-ae, who is known to represent the faction that supports the party's leading presidential hopeful Moon Jae-in, is widely expected to beat her two rivals, Kim Sang-gon and Rep. Lee Jong-kul.

Political pundits said if Choo wins the election as expected, the so-called Moon faction can gain more ground within the party and better prepare for next year's presidential election. Moon stepped down from the party's top post earlier this year following internal strife.

If Kim or Lee is elected the new head, however, the party may face more intense competition to pick its presidential candidate, they added.

The result is also set to bring major "left-leaning" changes to party policies, including its stance on the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in the country, they also said.

Kim Chong-in, the party's interim head, has been maintaining a neutral stance against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the country, which bought criticism from some of its progressive lawmakers for being reluctant to voice protest.

Choo, a five-term lawmaker who represents the Gwangjin District of Seoul, earlier vowed she will take a tougher stance in regards to Minjoo's position on THAAD.

The move will also apparently further weigh down the party's relationship with the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, which claims the missile defense system is integral to defending South Korea against Pyongyang's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

On Saturday's convention, the main opposition party will also elect the heads of the women, elderly, and youth committees.


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