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Opposition head pleads for support in ‘fight against Yoon dictatorship’

Sept. 22, 2023 - 18:49 By Kim Arin
Democratic Party of Korea Chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung is seen holding hands with Rep. Park Kwang-on, who handed in his resignation as the floor leader on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Democratic Party of Korea leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung on Friday made pleas to "salvage democracy" from the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, a day after the National Assembly passed a motion to let the court decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for him.

In a written statement, he called attention to the country’s history of fighting military dictatorships, and the monthslong protests that led to the impeachment of the Park Geun-hye administration.

“As history is a guide, it is always the people that triumph in the end,” he said. “But the Democratic Party must lead the way in fighting the Yoon Suk Yeol administration’s tyranny and stopping the dictatorial regime from destroying middle class and democracy.”

He said that if the Democratic Party falls, it’s the people “who will suffer the consequences,” calling for more support for him and his party.

“If we stand united against the prosecutors’ dictatorship, we will prevail.”

Friday’s statement comes after his party announced it would be overhauling its leadership in the Assembly to take responsibility for the passage of the critical motion that may result in Lee’s arrest.

The motion would not have passed unless several lawmakers from the majority-holding Democratic Party voted in favor, which the party characterized as a “betrayal.”

“For failing to unite the party in time of crisis, our floor leaders decided to step down,” the party said in a statement issued late Thursday.

According to his arrest warrant request, submitted by Seoul prosecutors, Lee is accused in three different scandals.

One is that he handed favors to private developers while he was the mayor of Seongnam, allowing them to illicitly profit from the city’s land development project. The second is that, during his trial for impersonating a prosecutor, an offense for which he was convicted, he forced a witness to give false testimony in court. The last one is that he paid North Korean authorities via an illicit route to organize his Pyongyang trip while serving as the governor of Gyeonggi Province.

The court is set to decide on his arrest warrant on Tuesday.

Lee, who is in hospital, has been on a hunger strike against the “tyrannical Yoon administration” since Aug. 31, demanding that the president replace his entire Cabinet.