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Park Ji-hyun runs for party leadership, vowing zero tolerance for sex crimes

Her candidacy rattles Democratic Party, which says she is not allowed to run

Park Ji-hyun, former co-chair of the emergency steering committee for the Democratic Party of Korea, announced her candidacy for the party’s leadership on Friday. (Yonhap)
Park Ji-hyun, former co-chair of the emergency steering committee for the Democratic Party of Korea, announced her candidacy for the party’s leadership on Friday. (Yonhap)


Despite efforts to dissuade her, Park Ji-hyun, former co-chair of the emergency steering committee for the Democratic Party of Korea, announced her candidacy for party leadership on Friday, vowing “zero tolerance” for sex crimes within the party.

“Today, I would like to tell the people that I have decided to run to be party leader to transform the Democratic Party into an open party that can better hear diverse voices, take better care of the people’s livelihoods, and better solve the crises to come,” Park said while standing in front of the National Assembly on Friday morning.

“The Democrats lost three consecutive elections, shutting their ears to the suffering of the youth, the working class and the middle class,” she said, adding that despite all of this, the party is not ready to change.

“(The party) should change,” she said. “If the Democratic Party does not change, the people will suffer.”

Park said the “demise” of the Democratic Party is due to “sex crimes,” vowing to treat them with “zero tolerance.”

Last week, Park took to Facebook to denounce the DemocratIc Party, mentioning Park Wan-joo, who was recently expelled for alleged sexual misconduct and Choi Kang-wook, who was disciplined for sexual harassment

Park said she asked for thorough punishment in dealing with them but few lawmakers agreed with her.

As for Friday’s announcement, it remains uncertain whether she will be able to run for party leader.

Park was told she was not qualified for party leadership because only those who have been a member of the party for at least six months are qualified can run to be leader under the party charter. Park joined the party on Feb. 14.

She has called for an exception to be made for her, but current party leader Woo Sang-ho said there would be none.

The Democratic Party voiced concern about Park’s push to run for leadership.

“I am very embarrassed by Park’s willingness to run,” Woo said Thursday, adding the party’s decision cannot be reversed. Rep. Kim Nam-guk said Park’s move is against fairness and common sense.

Some within the party say that it is regrettable that Park’s running for leadership is not allowed, as she is credited with drawing support from women in their 20s and 30s during the presidential election.

Regarding the ongoing controversy within the country’s main political parties involving young politicians like People Power Party leader Lee Jun-seok and Park, political commentator Chin Jung-kwon said, “(The parties) used a lot of young people during the election. And they also played a significant role,” he said.

“If (the parties) used them, shouldn’t (the parties) also make a system that allows the young politicians to grow systematically and move up to a position where they can lead the party?” he said, adding they seem to be the fifth wheel.

The Democratic Party plans to hold a national convention on Aug. 28 to elect a new leader.

According to a three-day survey conducted by Jowon C&I at the request of Straightnews of 1,000 men and women aged 18 or older nationwide about the suitability of the Democratic Party‘s next party leader, Park ranked third with 8.8 percent. Rep. Lee Jae-myung topped the list with 33.2 percent, while Rep. Park Yong-jin came in second with 15 percent.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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