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On 15th anniversary of Roh's death, ruling party calls for bipartisanship

People Power Party interim leader meets former President Moon Jae-in for first time since Yoon took office

May 23, 2024 - 16:41 By Jung Min-kyung
Ruling People Power Party interim leader Hwang Woo-yea presides over an intraparty leadership meeting held at the party's headquarters in western Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)

Ruling People Power Party interim leader Hwang Woo-yea on Thursday called for unity in the political sphere backed by a bipartisan alliance to mark the 15th anniversary of liberal late President Roh Moo-hyun’s death.

“Former President Roh had always emphasized the spirit of unity and co-prosperity alongside mutual compromise in politics,” the conservative ruling party leader said in a party leadership meeting.

“We hope the new leadership will cooperate in carrying out the way of politics that President Roh always dreamed of,” he added.

Hwang's remarks came as tensions between the ruling party and opposition have risen in recent days following President Yoon Suk Yeol’s veto of a bill mandating a special counsel investigation into accusations that the current administration had interfered in a military probe into the death of a young Marine in July 2023.

Yoon also faces an uphill battle in carrying out initiatives for his remaining three years in office if he fails to cooperate with the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea. The Democratic Party won a 175 seats in the single chamber, 300-seat National Assembly in the April 10 parliamentary election.

Thousands of people gathered for the 15th annual memorial service today in Bongha village in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, Roh's birthplace and where he lived post-retirement.

Formerly a lawyer from humble family origins, Roh became the ninth president of South Korea and served his five-year term until 2008. Roh was found dead in 2009 in an apparent suicide near his post-retirement home.

Hwang and People Power Party Floor Leader Rep. Choo Kyung-ho plans to meet liberal former President Moon Jae-in at his home in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province in the afternoon, after paying respect to Roh at the memorial ceremony held at Bongha village, the ruling party said in the morning.

The meeting will mark the first meeting between the ruling party leadership and Moon, who served as Roh's senior secretary for civil affairs and chief of staff, after Yoon took office in May 2022.

Despite Hwang’s hopes for stronger bipartisan cooperation, the ruling party expressed regret over Assembly Speaker Rep. Kim Jin-pyo’s and the main opposition party’s plan to hold a revote next week on the vetoed special counsel bill.

“We express regret over the Assembly speaker’s statement, which reflects his willingness to manage the parliament in a unilateral manner, despite the position (of the speaker) requiring political neutrality,” Choo said during Thursday’s party leadership meeting.

In Wednesday’s press conference marking the end of his two-year term as Assembly Speaker, Kim revealed that he plans to put the vetoed special investigation bill for a revote in an extra plenary session scheduled for May 28, even if the rival parties “fail to reach an agreement” on the bill.