Leftist party on verge of split
By Lee Tae-hoon
The left-leaning minority Unified Progressive Party (UPP) is teetering on the verge of a split or even collapse as the feud between belligerent members of the party’s main faction and moderates deepens.
The internal row has escalated to the point the party’s leadership had to convene a meeting online, instead of face-to-face Sunday in an apparent attempt to avoid further physical clashes between members.
Of the left-wing party’s four leaders, only Shim Sang-jung and Rhyu Si-min attended the online meeting during which they spoke to party members though live streaming and feedback on the UPP’s website.
Cho Joon-ho, another of the four leaders, could not attend as he was injured in a brawl with UPP members during Saturday’s meeting of the central committee.
Lee Jung-hee, who offered her resignation as a party leader and chairwoman of the 953-member central committee, boycotted the online session saying: “I’m a sinner. I will receive the punishment of silence.”
The internal conflict turned into a physical assault on Shim, Rhyu and Cho at the meeting of the central committee, which was expected to discuss pending issues, including the resignation of all six lawmakers selected under the proportional representation system from last month’s National Assembly elections.
Mainstream faction members protested the meeting of the party’s top decision making central committee members for seven hours and later became violent as Shim attempted to proceed.
Shim managed to pass a proposal to make minor changes to the party’s rules, including a clause which allows its Supreme Council to decide how big a financial contribution the lawmakers and their aides should make to the UPP.
She, however, could not deliberate on any critical issues, including the resignation of the four incumbent party leaders and proportional lawmakers-elect, as scores of party members jumped onto the stage to block proceedings.
Rhyu, Shim and Cho were punched and trampled as they tried to leave the room.