What They Said is a weekly series on the quotes behind the headlines.
There seems to have been a major shift in the People Power Party of late. The party appears to be trying to unify itself in support of President Yoon Suk Yeol, and along the way prune all those who deviate even slightly from the main party line. At any rate, there have been a number of recent changes in the party that have sparked contention among party members. After deciding last month to adopt a 100% party vote for the upcoming election of the party leader, which was seen as a move to stop Yoo Seong-min (who was likely to receive the most votes from non-party members) from being elected, the so-called pro-Yoon (Suk Yeol) members of the People Power Party have been supporting one candidate—Kim Gi-hyeon—while discouraging others from entering the race.
One such leading candidate is Na Kyung-won, a long time conservative party member who previously served as the floor leader for the Liberty Korea Party, before it became the People Power Party. She was appointed the vice chair of the Presidential Committee on Aging Society and Population Policy in October 2022, but she offered to resign on January 10, 2023, due to a policy dispute with the Office of the President—the rumor was that she resigned to avoid conflict in running for the party leader position. Then, on January 13, Yoon dismissed her from the position rather than accepting her resignation, thus cementing his position of providing no support for Na should she decide to run for party leader.
Though Na has declared herself to be pro-Yoon and has said that she wishes nothing but success for the Yoon administration, some party members have criticized her for going against the president’s wishes.
When Na submitted her resignation, Chang Jewon, known as ‘Yoon haekgwan’ (a close associate of Yoon), wrote on Facebook:
“Throwing a resignation letter at the back of the president, who is heading abroad for sales diplomacy in the national interest, is this the way to serve President Yoon Suk Yeol and his administration, as former National Assembly member Na Kyung-won keeps mentioning?
As a public official who handles important national policies, she has gone too far in using her position politically.
I am speechless at her hypocritical attitude of pretending to care for the president the most. Pretending to be noble as if she cares the most for the president, even though she is only in politics for herself, this is the behavior of an anti-Yoon coward who is disguised as pro-Yoon. …
How is she different from Yoo Seong-min and Lee Jun-seok…?
Isn’t this kind of behavior an insult to the president?
It is enough that we have Lee Jun-seok and Yoo Seong-min messing with our party. …”
— Chang Jewon, National Assembly member for the People Power Party, January 13, 2023
Park Sooyoung, another National Assembly member for the People Power Party, also commented:
The low birth rate and climate crisis are very big policy issues that even the president is greatly concerned about.
If former National Assembly member Na Kyung-won had contributed to solving these two problems, she would have been recognized by the president and by our party members. In particular, I think it would have been a good opportunity for her to receive great support from the people by showing that she is a politician who is not all talk and has the ability to solve policy issues.
Had that been the case, based on that support, she would have been able to do something bigger in politics.
However, due to her poor judgment in this instance, she is being mocked as in the image below, which is very unfortunate. It’s a real shame, since I think that had Na forgotten herself she would have been able to achieve something greater.
If elected to the National Assembly next year, she would have had a lot of opportunities for other positions, such as the chair of the National Assembly, as a five-term female member of the National Assembly.
— Park Sooyoung, National Assembly member for the People Power Party, January 15, 2023
Ahn Cheol-soo, who is also running for party leader, expressed his concern about the conflicts within the party:
Concerns about the party convention are growing.
If this continues, it might leave deep scars and divisions in the party that cannot be healed.
This party convention should be a celebration of our party with members competing for their vision, strategy, policy, and leadership to win the general election.
We must compete fiercely under fair rules and concede cleanly.
However, we already face criticism that our rules have lost fairness.
This is not a beautiful game in which everyone participates. Instead, against certain people, dangerous tackles from behind are rampant. …
— Ahn Cheol-soo, People Power Party member, January 15, 2023
While there have been all kinds of assumptions and presumptions, Na has yet to officially announce her candidacy for party leader.
In other news, Park Jin-hee, a South Korean actress, took to the streets to protest about the climate crisis. Holding a cardboard picket sign that said “The climate emergency era can no longer be postponed”, she asked people to pay attention and take action.
On Instagram, she wrote:
“Forsythia, which blooms in late March, bloomed beautifully in early January this year.
The earth is getting hotter and no one knows what natural disasters we will have to face going forward.
As a mother, it is terrifying to imagine what kind of world our children will live in. Canada and the United States are groaning from the cold snap and heavy snowstorms, while Switzerland recorded a high of 20 degrees in winter when it should be snowing.
We cannot delay any longer. For humanity, #ClimateChange passed and the #ClimateCrisis has come. We are now in the era of #ClimateEmergency.” .”
— Park Jin-hee, actress, January 14, 2023