Former opposition leader quits party

January 3, 2016
Kim Han-gil

Kim Han-gil

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Kim Han-gil, a former co-leader of the main opposition party, quit his party Sunday, dealing another blow to the opposition in the disarray following a high-profile departure of its other former co-chairman.

Kim co-founded the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) in 2014, with Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo, who announced his departure last month.

The party changed its name to the Minjoo Party of Korea on Wednesday.

“I will dedicate myself to creating a new political order from scratch and win the general elections (in April),” Kim said in a news conference at the National Assembly.

When asked whether he will join Ahn’s new party, Kim said he will discuss the issue with him.

The departure lowers the number of seats held by Minjoo in the 300-member parliament to 118. Eight lawmakers have left since Ahn’s departure.

The Ahn camp, which is scheduled to launch a preparation committee for the new party next week, remained cautious but welcomed Kim’s move.

“I know that the two sides (Ahn and Kim) have agreed on cooperation generally, but details need to be further discussed,” Rep. Moon Byung-ho told Yonhap News Agency. Moon also left the Minjoo Party last month to join Ahn.

Ahn announced his departure about a month ago following internal strife with incumbent Chairman Moon Jae-in.

Ahn had called for Moon’s resignation and party reform following the NPAD’s crushing defeat in the parliamentary by-elections in April 2015. He left the party when negotiations with Moon over a leadership change fell through.

A stream of similar desertions from the Minjoo Party is expected with some assuming more lawmakers may follow suit by the end of January.

Ahn, the founder of the nation’s largest anti-virus software firm Ahnlab Co., co-founded the NPAD after merging Kim’s main opposition Democratic Party and his supporters. Ahn jointly shared the party’s top post with Kim for four months.