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(LEAD) Main opposition party expels candidate over controversial remarks

All News 18:50 April 13, 2020

(ATTN: CLARIFIES 3rd para; ADDS info in last para)

SEOUL, April 13 (Yonhap) -- The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) decided Monday to kick out election candidate Cha Myeong-jin over his controversial remarks about families of the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster.

The decision, made at an emergency meeting of the conservative party's leadership council, will deprive Cha of candidacy to run in the April 15 parliamentary elections.

During a TV debate last week, Cha, who ran in Bucheon, west of Seoul, cited an unconfirmed news report that two family members of victims of the Sewol ferry sinking and a supporter committed sexual acts at a protest tent in central Seoul in May 2018.

The decision appears to be made out of political consideration, as Cha's case will harm the party's campaign for seats in Seoul and the surrounding Gyeonggi Province.

The party's ethics committee on Friday recommended Cha voluntarily leave the party, stopping short of expelling the former lawmaker. However, public criticism had mounted, as this would still allow Cha to run in the elections.

"Politics that hurt people's hearts should disappear," UFP Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn said after the decision Monday.

Cha has protested the decision. He wrote on his Facebook account that he would file a court injunction and ask the UFP on Tuesday to reconsider it.

Later in the day, the Bucheon branch of the National Election Commission canceled his candidate registration and nullified the votes he earned during the early voting period late last week.

This photo, taken on April 10, 2020, shows Cha Myeong-jin, a candidate of the main opposition United Future Party running in Bucheon, west of Seoul. On April 13, 2020, the party decided to strip him of his membership over his controversial remarks about families of the victims of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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