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Opposition leader proposes meeting with Yoon amid growing party feud

Sept. 29, 2023 - 14:11 By Ji Da-gyum
Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, speaks to the press as he walks out of a detention facility on the outskirts of Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap - Joint Press Corps)

Opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on Friday publicly proposed one-on-one talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol amid intensifying feuds between the political rivals.

The proposal from the chairman of South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party comes just two days after he narrowly averted a crisis in his political career, with the court dismissing an arrest warrant request related to corruption charges filed against him.

With the arrest reprieve that bolstered the DP’s counterattack, the political standoff between the rival parties has continued to escalate. Regular sessions at the National Assembly will resume after the 6-day Chuseok holiday that ends next Tuesday.

"I propose a one-on-one meeting with a primary focus on addressing livelihood concerns to President Yoon Suk Yeol. Let's put a halt to political strife, at least until the regular session that ends in December, and focus on resolving issues affecting the public's well-being," Lee said in a statement posted on his Facebook.

"I hope the president and the opposition leader can meet without conditions to candidly discuss matters concerning people's livelihood and state affairs, and expeditiously execute tasks within our capacity."

The ruling People Power Party on Friday labeled Lee's proposal as "out of context" and called on Lee to respond instead, to the repeated requests from the ruling leader, Kim Gi-hyeon, for a meeting.

Party spokesperson Rep. Kang Min-kuk emphasized that Lee should prioritize their proposal for interparty talks between the leaders of the two parties.

"It is a fundamental aspect of parliamentary democracy for the leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties to convene and deliberate on livelihood issues under consideration at the National Assembly," Kang said in a statement.

"The sudden and out-of-place proposal for talks between the president and the opposition leader, amidst a legislative standstill, not only appears incongruous but also lacks authenticity."

Lee has proposed talks to Yoon on multiple occasions, including during his inauguration as the party's leader in August last year and during this year's New Year press conference. These proposed talks never came to fruition.