Post-election purge in ruling Saenuri
By Chung Min-uck
Kim Hyung-tae, a lawmaker-elect of the ruling Saenuri Party, decided to leave the party Wednesday amid mounting criticism over his ethically-flawed behavior in allegedly attempting to sexually assault the wife of his deceased brother.
The would-be lawmaker’s move comes at a time when the ruling party is apparently worried over any possible negative impact upon the party and its Chairwoman Rep. Park Geun-hye ahead of the presidential election slated for December 19.
The party captured majority status in last week’s parliamentary elections. Kim’s
The 60-year-old journalist-turned-politician, who successfully ran in South Pohang and Ulleung Island constituency in North Gyeongsang Province, decided to drop his party membership following allegations that he attempted to sexually assault the wife of his late brother 10 years ago.
The scandal first surfaced when his brother’s wife surnamed Choi accused him three days before the National Assembly elections on April 11. The former KBS reporter immediately filed a suit against Choi for defamation. The case is still awaiting a first hearing.
“I am leaving the Saenuri Party. I don’t want to burden the party and Rep. Park,” Kim said in a press release.
However, he denied the accusation and added he will rejoin the party after proving his innocence.
Insiders say Kim’s decision came too late and that the late response in handling it could hurt the party’s image as it has been taking bold actions against its member’s ethically-flawed behavior in the past as part of reform measures.
Observers say the seemingly belated move is attributable to Rep. Park, the conservative party’s strongest presidential candidate, as she hung on to the position of “checking on the relevancy of cases first before making a final decision.”
They say it is in contrast with the chairwoman’s earlier behavior where she urged Rep. Choi Gu-sik to leave the party right after rumors spread that one of his secretaries masterminded a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the National Election Commission before the Seoul mayoral by-election last October.
Meanwhile, unlike Kim, Moon Dae-sung, 36, said he will maintain his party membership until an evaluation of his allegedly plagiarized academic paper is made.
The lawmaker-elect of Busan’s Saha-A constituency has been under fire for plagiarizing his doctoral thesis submitted to Kookmin University in Seoul in 2007.
The former taekwondo athlete is a gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics and later became an athlete member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He currently serves as professor at Dong-A University in Busan.
“I will wait for the results of an investigation and then see what I can do with my party membership,” Moon said. “I didn’t plagiarize any thesis.”
Asked if he was planning on leaving the party, he said, “How can I make a decision that is against Rep. Park.”
Kookmin University is now evaluating the accuracy of the thesis.