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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on June 13)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:59 June 13, 2022

Disband the suspicious group

The people are frowning on attempts by People Power Party (PPP) lawmakers to establish a private group in the party shortly after its landslide victory in the June 1 local elections to allegedly help President Yoon Suk run the government smoothly. The group led by third-term Rep. Chang Je-won, who served as Yoon's chief of staff during the transition, includes as many as 30 pro-Yoon lawmakers. After PPP floor leader Kwon Seong-dong and other members of the leadership expressed concern about the faction, Chang stepped out of it. But suspicions remain over the motive behind the formation of the faction in the PPP, which also won in the March 9 presidential election.

Members of the group brushed off the suspicion as it's just an "association of lawmakers to relay public sentiment to government officials through meetings." But such functions are being handled by an official consultative body among the party, the government and the president. Facing mounting criticism for the redundancy, Rep. Chang claimed that any PPP lawmakers can join the group. But if you look into the membership, anyone can see the purpose of the group: influence in the national convention next June and get nominations in legislative elections in 2024.

After members of the faction pushed for its launch, lawmakers with no close ties with President Yoon are afraid of being stigmatized as an "anti-Yoon group." Some party members denounced the faction for being a replica of the Hanahoe faction, a secret group of officers in the military who helped the launch of the Chun Doo Hwan regime in 1980. It is regrettable that the PPP is following in the footsteps of the authoritarian government after ardently condemning the divisive politics of the Moon Jae-in administration. Such outmoded politics based on factionalism only backfires.

After pro-Moon lawmakers launched a private group "purely for friendship" during the Moon administration, Rep. Chang lambasted them for trying to reap personal gains, such as taking key posts in the Democratic Party (DP). As Chang said, the DP lost the March 9 presidential election after the pro-Moon faction went over the top. We wonder why Chang tries to take the same path as the DP members.

The National Assembly is adrift due to the sharp disagreement between the two parties over who should take the chairmanship of standing committees. The country faces an unprecedented crisis from the prolonged war in Ukraine and interest rate hikes in the United States. The PPP must not forget that the voters supported the party to help overcome the crisis and revitalize the economy. President Yoon must make clear his position on the emergence of alarming factionalism in the PPP.

(END)

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