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Yoon Seok-youl’s election committee takes shape

Yoon faces task of recruiting former rival; Lee seeks to revamp committee to recover popularity

Nov. 21, 2021 - 18:23 By Shin Ji-hye
The main opposition People Power Party’s presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)

The main opposition People Power Party’s presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl on Sunday finalized the leadership of his election committee, reaching across the aisle to shape his campaign.

Former interim leader Kim Chong-in will head the election committee, and current and former party leaders Lee Jun-seok and Kim Byong-joon become standing committee chairmen. Former Democratic Party leader Kim Han-gil serves as chairman of the so-called New Era Preparatory Committee.

Yoon revealed the results to reporters after meeting with Kim Han-gil on the day.

Yoon said, “Kim Han-gil decided to promote harmony between generations and regions, including young people and middle-aged people, in achieving regime change.”

Kim Han-gil aims to “establish a platform that can be joined by both centrists and rational progressive figures who are eager for a regime change but are still hesitant to join the People Power Party,” Yoon said.

Detailed organizations and personnel appointments of the new committee will be revealed after closely consulting with Kim Han-gil, the candidate said.

“I thought a lot,” Kim Han-gil said, adding, “The conclusion is a regime change. It is the spirit of our times.”

“Three Kims” are expected to share roles by taking advantage of their strengths.

Kim Chong-in, who will head the “one-top” general election committee, will make the best use of his “King Maker” status who previously led former president Park Geun-hye to win the election. Kim Byong-joon is expected to discover policies in each field and suggest directions based on his experience of looking at the overall state of affairs while serving as the policy chief under the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Kim Han-gil is expected to play a role in targeting centrists and recruiting former Democratic Party heavyweights.

Although the committee was launched, Yoon still faces the task of bringing in Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, who lost in the party’s primary and had higher support from young voters than Yoon.

Yoon called on Hong several times to participate in the election committee, but Hong did not answer. Party leader Lee Jun-seok visited Hong’s house and attempted to persuade him to join the committee, but he apparently remained unchanged.

Hong previously wrote on his Facebook page, “You shouldn’t criticize me for not participating in the election committee. Forcing me to participate in the committee itself is unfair tyranny.”

When asked by a supporter why he did not answer Yoon’s call, Hong said he had nothing to say even if he had responded to the phone.

Hong instead has continued to criticize Yoon.

On his website, he said last week, “In (my) 26 years of politics, this is the first time I’ve ever experienced a presidential election like a ‘mess drama.’”

“Major candidates from the ruling and opposition parties and their families are all being investigated or tried for criminal charges,” Hong said, referring to both Yoon and Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung.

He said the nation would become unhappy if Yoon becomes president.

The Democratic Party’s Lee, who has recently been suffering from sluggish support, is also grappling with his newly launched election committee as he seeks to revamp it.

Lee said Sunday, “We will quickly reflect the will of the people and create an agile, lightweight and nimble response system to enable actions that meet the people’s expectations.”

Rep. Kim Doo-kwan of the Democratic Party resigned from his post as chairman of the joint election committee, saying he agrees with candidate Lee’s view on revamping the committee.

The party held an emergency general meeting of lawmakers at the National Assembly on Sunday to discuss overhauling the party’s election committee.

Lee admitted he has not met the public’s hopes for change and innovation.

“I started to reflect on myself and think deeply about what efforts I should make to meet the people’s expectations,” he said. “I should admit my mistakes and express my determination to make new changes and show them through practice.”

Lee also accepted a special prosecution investigation related to property speculations and withdrew plans for a national disaster support fund, seeking a rebound in approval ratings.