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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on June 15)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:58 June 15, 2022

Stop the fandom politics

Fandom politics is sweeping Korea. Even in the conservative People Power Party (PPP), which is relatively free from it, avid followers of Chairman Lee Jun-seok are gearing up their attacks on his opponents in the party. Following their earlier attacks on Reps. Ahn Cheol-soo, former chair of President Yoon Suk-yeol's transition committee, and Cho Su-jin in the March 9 presidential election, Lee's core supporters are now bombarding Rep. Chung Jin-suk, vice speaker of the National Assembly, and Rep. Bae Hyun-jin with text messages each day after the two lawmakers opposed Lee's high-handed approaches to many issues.

Chairman Lee criticized Park Ji-hyun, chair of the emergency committee of the Democratic Party (DP), for her inability to "shatter the politics based on fandom." But he keeps mum about the excessive attacks by his supporters on his political opponents. Why?

The PPP is also uneasy about the way lawyer Kang Shin-up, head of a fan club for first lady Kim Kun-hee, behaves. Kang hurled insults at a commentator critical of the first lady on social media. Kim must keep the house in order before it is too late.

The DP's situation is worse. Even after fandom politics was singled out as a primary reason for the party's crushing defeat in the June 1 local elections, there is no sign of improvement in the party. After some hardliners sarcastically called supporters of former prime minister Lee Nak-yon, a contender in the DP's primary for the March presidential election, a "watermelon" for their comparatively conservative position, Rep. Woo Sang-ho, interim leader of the embattled party, threatened to punish those zealots.

Such fanatical political scenes largely originated with former President Moon Jae-in who brushed off his loyalists' repeated off-track support as the spice of democracy in the presidential election in 2017. If he had put the brakes on the move, we may not have reached this level.

Fandom politics does not help democracy. Blind allegiance and unconditional attacks only jeopardizes democracy as they vaporize reasonable debates. The DP must learn lessons from its overwhelming loss in the local elections. Even after its defeat, DP members praised the party for a "good fight." Buoyed by pressure from the hawks in the party, the DP pressed ahead with an unheard-of bill aimed at taking investigative powers from the prosecution once and for all. The supermajority party unanimously passed the bill. The DP is now attempting to take the chairmanship of the powerful Legislation and Judiciary Committee in the legislature despite vehement opposition from the PPP.

Our politicians cannot afford fandom politics based on diehard factionalism when the country faces a plethora of challenges on economic and security fronts. They must listen to the silent majority, not their core supporters.
(END)

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