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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Jan. 7)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:00 January 07, 2022

Quitting time

On Thursday, lawmakers from the People Power Party (PPP) demanded the resignation of Lee Jun-seok as chairman. As a call by lawmakers is quite different from complaints by a few members of the party, Lee will be pressured to step down. It's no wonder considering the strange way he behaves.

And yet, Lee is refusing to quit, saying he's not ready to tender his own resignation.

After PPP presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, former prosecutor general, joined the party in July to run for president, Lee started provoking controversy by claiming he was being ignored by Yoon.

Since Yoon was elected presidential candidate of the party in November, Lee has been bent on criticizing the candidate each day. As a result, Yoon's ratings plunged. Political commentators sarcastically say that Lee contributed most to "transforming the PPP into a wreaked ship" ahead of the March 9 presidential election.

Internal schisms in the party have reached a point at which the lawmakers of the party have challenged him to vacate his seat. But Lee, a 36-year old who seems to enjoy reading his own press clippings, is faithfully following in the footsteps of unashamed former party heads after employing the party constitution as a shield.

Lee claims he had to raise his voice because Yoon has ignored his advice. But Lee's assertion is not convincing. Instead of applying sound criticism to Yoon, Lee has been attacking him on a daily basis. Lee must take responsibility for Yoon's dramatic drop in ratings to third place from No. 1.

Lee has poured cold water on Yoon's idea of revamping his super-sized election campaign committee. "I just pray for your luck," Lee said cynically after rejecting Yoon's endeavor to streamline the mammoth party. If that is not arrogance, what is?

It was Yoon's rival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) who has benefited most from Lee's methodical campaign to denounce Yoon and fuel internal division. These days, the DP aggressively defends Lee as if he was one of their own. A bizarre, unfathomable, and unprecedented farce is being played out in Korean politics now.

Lee was elected head of the PPP primarily thanks to party members' decision to support him regardless of his lack of experience as a lawmaker. They thought his youth would help them win back power.

Yet Lee's arrogant behavior threw cold water on the public's hope to take power back from the ruling party over its arrogance and repeated policy failures. Lee has lost all integrity and authority as head of the main opposition party. If he stays in his post, it will only help shorten his political life. The time has come to quit.
(END)

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