On Saturday, estimated 20,000 conservatives gathered in central Seoul in a rally organized by the Liberty Korea Party. The party’s rally, the first major demonstration organized by the party since Hwang Kyo-ahn took office as its leader, was joined by members of smaller conservative groups supporting former President Park Geun-hye.
|Hwang Kyo-ahn (center), head of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, and members of the conservative party shout “President Moon Stop” slogans during a rally against the government in central Seoul on Saturday. Yonhap|
At the rally, Hwang vehemently criticized President Moon Jae-in.
“President Moon Jae-in is not conducting any diplomacy (aimed at) reviving the economy, instead acting only as Kim Jong-un’s spokesperson,” Hwang said, echoing earlier remarks from Liberty Korea Party floor leader Rep. Na Kyung-won.
Na had referred to Moon as the North Korean leader’s senior spokesperson during her parliamentary address in early March, sparking protests from the ruling Democratic Party.
“President Moon is going around begging for sanctions on North Korea to be lifted,” Hwang said, going on to claim that Moon has damaged South Korea-US alliance.
Hwang, who had appeared to distance himself from Park during his campaign for party leadership, indirectly referred to the former president, accusing the administration of oppressing individuals from past conservative administrations.
“The Moon Jae-in administration has been unwavering in following the path of a left-wing dictatorship,” Hwang said, adding that the current administration has created a “left-wing paradise.”
“(The administration) has arrested individuals of past administrations regardless of old age, and kept them in prison regardless of the seriousness of illnesses they suffer.”
Hwang is thought to have been referring to Park, who has asked to be released from prison for health reasons.
The ruling party hit back immediately, accusing Hwang of reverting to old ways of local politics when fear of communism was used to rally support, and to attack opponents. The Democratic Party also claimed the rally “proved to the people that Liberty Korea Party is a political party without a future.”
The apparent change in Hwang’s position on Park is thought to be a ploy to expand the party’s supporter base, and to unite the conservatives ahead of next year’s general elections.
While the Liberty Korea Party remains the main conservative party, the conservative vote has shown signs of fragmentation, with the Bareunmirae Party, and to a smaller degree the Patriotic Party of Korea, drawing supporters away.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)