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Liberty Korea Party launches satellite group

General elections are about two months away and South Korea’s political landscape is undergoing a transformation, with party splits, mergers and even the arrival of the nation’s very first “satellite” party.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party on Wednesday launched the Future Korea Party, the satellite group created for the sole purpose of securing additional proportionate representative seats in the next parliament. LKP’s four-term lawmaker Han Sun-kyo switched his party membership to be the chair of the fledgling party.

Liberty Korea Party Chief Hwang Kyo-ahn (left) talks with Future Korea Party Chief Han Sun-kyo. (Yonhap)
Liberty Korea Party Chief Hwang Kyo-ahn (left) talks with Future Korea Party Chief Han Sun-kyo. (Yonhap)

Han said the new party will embrace all conservative forces while criticizing the Moon Jae-in government for failing to realize justice, equality and fairness in the country at the launch event held at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul. “I will show what justice is through victory in the general election,” he said.

The new affiliated party aims to secure more parliamentary seats in the April election by taking advantage of a revised electoral law that enables minor parties to boost their presence by taking proportional representation seats based on vote share.

As of Wednesday, three incumbent lawmakers from the main opposition party -- Reps. Kim Sung-chan and Cho Hoon-hyun, along with Han -- decided to join the small faction. The three had announced they would not run in the general election.

Even before the launch, the creation of the Future Korea Party was off to a bumpy ride.

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea and leftist Justice Party filed complaints against Liberty Korea Party Chairman Hwang Kyo-ahn with the prosecution on Tuesday for forcefully demanding its lawmakers leave the party to join the affiliated group. 

The Liberty Korea Party plans to encourage its lawmakers to transfer to the new group before Feb. 14, when the National Election Commission doles out national subsidies to political parties. If the Future Korea Party secures more than five lawmakers, it will be eligible to receive some 600 million won ($505,000).

Meanwhile, the centrist Bareunmirae Party is on the brink of dismantlement as its lawmakers are planning departures en masse to join a new political party to be created by its former leader Ahn Cheol-soo.

Bareunmirae Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu is under pressure to resign, as former leaders Yoo Seong-min and Ahn have left the party following conflicts with Sohn.

The party lost its status as a negotiation bloc with the departure of Rep. Lee Chan-yeol on Tuesday in protest against Sohn’s refusal to step down, as its number of parliamentary seats fell to 19.