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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on March 21)

All News 07:23 March 21, 2023

Does Moon really want to be forgotten?

A war of interpretation continues in the Democratic Party (DP) over exactly what was meant by former president Moon Jae-in. The internal battle broke out amid an intense fight over the future of DP leader Lee jae-myung who is being investigated by the prosecution over a plethora of charges after indictments. The war of translation was triggered by former National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief Park Ji-won, who said he had met the former president on March 10. In a radio interview, Park delivered what his former boss told him. Moon underscored the strong need for "unity of the party," deploring "a lack of alternatives to Chairman Lee," according to Park. Moon's remarks suggest his opposition to the growing demand for Lee's resignation as head of the party.

But what Rep. Park Yong-jin said after meeting with Moon was quite different. "The former president encouraged the DP to change a little bit, make a determination, and get united to win the next parliamentary elections," wrote Park on Facebook. The posting translates into the former president's demand for a revamp of the embattled party over its off-track boss.

The weird internal battle owes much to the former president himself. In the New Year's press conference in 2020, Moon said he wants to be forgotten after finishing his term. But uninterrupted remarks from the former president over the opposition party can be seen as intervention in politics despite his wish to be forgotten. Rep. Lee Sang-min, a five-term DP lawmaker, cynically asked, "Are we underlings of the former president?" The governing People Power Party (PPP) attacked Moon for acting as a "regent" after retirement.

Ludicrous are the DP legislators trying to interpret Moon's comment in their favor depending on their connection with Lee even without catching the context of the former president's remarks just for their own political gain. The majority party holding 169 seats in the 300-member legislature should have reinvented itself after its defeat in the last presidential election instead of battling over what was really meant by the former president.

Park, the former NIS chief, also relayed the former president's concerns about a sharp division of the party, substandard text messages from radical groups in the party, and the politics of hatred. If what the former top spy said is true, the former president should be ashamed of himself, as he cannot avoid responsibility for his fandom-based politics during his five-year reign just like current DP boss can't.

Shortly after being elected presidential candidate of the DP in 2017, Moon compared a bombardment of text messages from his supporters targeting his contenders and their slanders against his rivals to "a spice to make competitions more interesting." The former president should know better than anyone else why such a weird battle is being wage in the DP.

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