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DP leadership contest suffers virus setback, with frontrunner Lee quarantined


The race for the ruling Democratic Party’s leadership has suffered a setback from a COVID-19 resurgence in the country, with its frontrunner, Lee Nak-yon, placed under two-week isolation.

Its national convention slated for Aug. 28, where a new party chairperson was to be elected, is to be moved online, as indoor gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited under renewed disease prevention guidelines. Party leaders were set to discuss other adjustments to the general assembly plan in a meeting Friday.

Rep. Lee, who served as prime minister until January, has been ordered to isolate himself until Aug. 31 as he was categorized as a close contact of an infected by health authorities. Lee got tested Tuesday evening, and was cleared of the coronavirus.

The DP canceled an MBC television debate of the candidates which had been scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

The DP said, however, it will discuss holding another television debate on KBS slated for Aug. 27 virtually.

Kim Boo-kyum, a former four-term lawmaker and party heavyweight who is also running for party leadership, said it won’t make sense for him or another candidate, Rep. Park Joo-min, to run their campaigns when Lee can’t.

The ongoing nationwide spread of COVID-19 has affected several politicians.

Kim’s camp office has been shut down temporarily as a close contact of Rev. Jun Gwang-hoon, a pastor who led tens of thousands of anti-government protesters on Liberation Day and got himself confirmed with the virus, visited the building the camp office is situated in.

Former lawmaker Cha Myung-jin of the main opposition United Future Party was confirmed with COVID-19 after he attend the anti-government rally on Aug. 15.

By Kim So-hyun (