Deputies critical of S.Korean president split from ruling party

Seoul: Twenty-nine deputies from South Korean ruling Saenuri party, who are critical of embattled President Park Geun-hye, have begun the process of forming a new political party after formally resigning from the previous one.

The New Conservative Party for Reform, which aims to launch its activities on January 24, 2017, plans to attract conservative voters disenchanted with Saenuri, a party that has been divided by the “South Korean Rasputin” corruption scandal which led to the preliminary dismissal of the president.

“Park loyalists have forgotten the true values of conservatism, which has resulted in the loss of the people’s trust. Their loyalty to the president and ignorance of the people’s voice and truth allowed Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs,” a group’s spokesperson told Yonhap news agency.

The spokesperson added that they will try to turn the scandal into an opportunity to reform South Korea.

The process of dismissal of the president, which is yet to be ratified by the Constitutional Court in the next few months, comes after prosecutors indicated that she was an accomplice in the corruption and influence-peddling scandal led by Choi Soon-sil, nicknamed as “South Korean Rasputin.”

Choi, a close friend of Park and currently in prison, is accused of meddling in state affairs despite not holding any official position, besides extorting large sums of money from Korean companies and appropriating part of it for personal use, among other charges.

Divided for years between Park’s followers and a more critical faction, the country’s largest political party has experienced the division even more in the aftermath of the scandal, Efe news reported.

It is expected that more deputies will resign from Saenuri and join the new formation in early January.

Following the split of Saenuri, which had 128 seats in the National Assembly but now only 81, the Democratic Party, the main opposition force, currently is the faction with the highest number of seats, with 121 deputies.

The newly formed party will become the fourth political force of the country with 29 deputies, after the People’s Party, which has 38 seats in parliament.