Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo / Korea Times file

By Kwak Yeon-soo

Ruling party members are engaged in a blame game after the People Power Party suffered a big defeat in the April 10 general elections.

Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo, an outspoken politician, railed against former PPP interim leader Han Dong-hoon after the party lost in the April 10 general elections, saying “There was no strategy, no message, only a political newbie who was busy taking selfies.”

The PPP obtained a total of 108 seats out of 300, including 18 gained through proportional representation by its satellite party, the People Future Party, while the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea managed to win 175 seats, including 14 gained through proportional representation by its satellite party, the Democratic United Party.

While embracing President Yoon Suk Yeol, Hong blamed Han as a foolish leader who put the entire party through hell. “President Yoon joined the party and brought a regime change while Han gave us nothing but hell. We got the wrong interim party leader from the beginning. I will not forgive him as long as I’m in this party,” Hong wrote on Facebook, Sunday.

Hong’s party leadership had been suspended over criticism that he played golf when the country was struggling with damage from heavy rain in July 2023 but was exempted from suspension four months later.

Kim Kyung-yul, a former member of the PPP’s leadership committee, criticized Hong for his ill-advised comments, dropping a cryptic remark on dogs barking. “I think Hong should go see Kang Hyung-wook (the best-known dog trainer in Korea),” he said.

Hong fired back at Kim’s remarks. “After living this long, I now see dogs criticizing people. Before blaming other people, you need to reflect and engage in self-criticism on why the election results turned out so negative,” he said.

On Tuesday, the former five-term lawmaker also said, “Those departing should leave without regret, while those remaining should at least unite.”

Analysts said that Hong is lashing out at Han with an intention of eliminating a potential competitor for 2027 presidential election.

“Of course Hong wants to oust Han, his main potential conservative rival in the next presidential race,” said Park Chang-hwan, a political commentator and professor of Jangan University.

“However, his wild comments over the last few days reflect his calls for party reform. He wants to make sure the party doesn’t go in a pro-Yoon direction after the defeat. He may want to criticize Yoon directly, but he’s refraining from doing so because that would mean a lame duck Yoon administration. It won’t be good for Daegu citizens too,” he added. Daegu is a PPP stronghold.

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