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Saenuri defectors visit military base at border

All Headlines 10:21 January 02, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 2 (Yonhap) -- A group of lawmakers who left the ruling Saenuri Party visited a military base near the inter-Korean border on Monday, in an apparent bid to promote their conservative stance on national security issues.

The lawmakers quit Saenuri last month after months of feuding with loyalists of President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached by parliament in December over corruption. They plan to launch their own party tentatively named the New Conservative Party for Reform this month.

While taking a relatively centrist approach to social and economic policies compared with Saenuri, the defectors vowed to maintain a strictly conservative stance on North Korean and national security issues.

Political pundits said the visit aimed to appeal to conservative voters, who are wary of their economic stances, led by former floor leader Rep. Yoo Seong-min, a potential presidential contender, who championed the agenda of "economic democratization."

The group of 30 ex-Saenuri lawmakers plans to officially kick off the new party on Jan. 24, with the number expected to grow further.

According to the survey conducted last week by Yonhap News Agency and KBS, South Korea's top newswire and broadcaster, respectively, their envisioned party garnered an approval rating of 5.9 percent.

The main opposition Democratic Party was favored the most at 36.3 percent, followed by the ruling Saenuri Party with 12.4 percent. The People's Party posted 9.7 percent.

colin@yna.co.kr
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