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‘Pro-Lee Jae-myung’ lawmaker Hong Ihk-pyo elected opposition’s new floor leader

Sept. 26, 2023 - 17:52 By Kim Arin
Democratic Party of Korea’s newly elected floor leader Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo (Yonhap)

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Tuesday elected Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo, a “pro-Lee Jae-myung” lawmaker who is serving his third term in the National Assembly, as its new floor leader.

Hong’s election comes after the last one to hold the post, TV journalist-turned-lawmaker Rep. Park Kwang-on, known for his dovish approach, stepped down last week amid the passage of a critical motion on the party leader Rep. Lee Jae-myung’s possible arrest.

In the acceptance speech, Hong stressed party unity, saying that the party was faced with “grave challenges.”

“Our party leader is in court for a hearing on his arrest warrant while he is still in poor health from the hunger strike,” he said. “We are a team. I will make sure that our party is united as a team. We can take this momentum forward into victory in the next year’s general election with Lee Jae-myung as leader.”

At the Sept. 21 plenary session, the Assembly passed the motion giving the court the authority to decide on an arrest warrant after Lee in a narrow vote. As the Assembly’s majority is controlled by the Democratic Party, which holds 168 out of 298 seats, the motion would not have passed without some in-favor votes from Democratic Party lawmakers.

If the court ends up issuing an arrest warrant, the result of which was not available at the time of writing, Lee would become the first leader of a main opposition party to be arrested.

Lee ended his 24-day hunger strike against what he called “tyranny” of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, consuming nothing other than salt and water. For the last five days of the hunger strike, he was in the hospital on an IV.

According to prosecutors, the Democratic Party leader is accused of giving inside information and other favors to certain private developers and allowing them to profit illicitly from a city-led urban development project, while he was the mayor of Seongnam, among other accusations.