|Moon Jae-in, former chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, speaks at a press conference at the National Assembly, Tuesday. He vowed to push for a nationwide movement to oust President Park Geun-hye over a massive political scandal involving her and her longtime confidant Choi Soon-sil. / Yonhap|
Opposition alliance gains momentum
By Kim Hyo-jin
Former opposition leader Moon Jae-in, a major presidential hopeful, joined a campaign to force President Park Geun-hye to resign, Tuesday, saying he will fight until Park steps down.
"I will push for a nationwide movement to drive Park out until she declares her resignation with no conditions attached," Moon said during a press conference at the National Assembly. "I will help create an emergency body that embraces all opposition parties, civic society and local communities."
Moon has been cautious about calling for Park's resignation but his pledge to join the anti-Park campaign is expected to make the opposition-led drive more powerful because he is widely backed by civic and religious groups.
This was the first time Moon officially called for Park's resignation, which is possibly linked to his presidential bid.
Regarding the holding of an early presidential election, Moon, a former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), said the issue should be discussed if Park resigns.
Moon's action came after the DPK toughened its stance against Park, making her resignation an official position during a general meeting.
The move involves the risk of a backlash from conservative voters ahead of the scheduled presidential election next year, which could last some time.
Earlier, it had urged Park to hand over full authority to a new prime minister to be appointed by the National Assembly and step aside from state affairs.
Such a stance, however, took a notable turn following a massive rally Saturday where around 1 million citizens assembled in central Seoul calling for Park's resignation.
"It is clear what the people want," Moon told reporters. "Their outcry in Gwanghwamun Square was an expression of despair which won't even be healed by Park's resignation. It was a call to change the nation's fundamentals."
Moon noted that his previous reluctance in calling for her resignation was to minimize confusion in state affairs.
"I wanted to allow her a way out. But she just ignored the remaining hope, holding on to power and pushing ahead with a military agreement with Japan," he said, criticizing the signing of the General Security of Military Information Agreement between Seoul and Tokyo.
Earlier in the day, the DPK leadership also clarified that it will join with other opposition parties to increase the pressure on Park to resign.
"The party will form an emergency body to deal with the situation with the two other opposition parties and civic society," party leader Rep. Choo Mi-ae said in a Facebook post.
The DPK is expected to raise an all-out offensive against Park in the next few days in an effort to keep pace with civic groups and the combative minor opposition parties.
Party leaders are considering a nationwide tour to sell its movement to the public, said an official. They are expected to join scheduled protests on Nov. 19 and 26, he added.
Choo appears to have tightened her grip on the party after taking flak from lawmakers for what they call a careless approach she made to the President, Monday.
She proposed holding bilateral talks with Park, but retracted the proposal amid protests from her colleagues and other political parties. Choo later explained that she intended to deliver the public sentiment to the embattled President who seems to be failing to understand the situation.
Park has been under pressure to resign as her administration has been paralyzed by the scandal in which her confident Choi Soon-sil meddled in state affairs, despite having no official position, and coerced corporate donations for two non-profit foundations she controlled.