Last Friday, South Korean lawmaker-elect Lee Seok Gi was reminded again that the party in whose name he was elected to the National Assembly on April 11th, has not really got the guts to expel him in order to reform itself.
If it had unexpectedly shown the degree of backbone needed to kick him out then it would not have been undeserved, however. Having emerged onto the political landscape at the beginning of the year as a proportional representation candidate for the hard left-leaning United Progressive Party (UPP), Lee has come under near constant pressure to jump ship since compelling evidence linking him to electoral fraud in a January primary election was uncovered. Voices of condemnation then rose to a crescendo when a section of the party which supports Lee spent seven hours systematically disrupting a televised central committee meeting on May 12th; crashing the stage, pushing and shoving party leaders, tearing clothing and finally bringing about the adjournment of the entire event.
It is said that the purpose of the violence was to protect the right of both Lee and fellow proportional representative Kim Jae Yeon to enter the National Assembly. The event had been set up to facilitate a vote on the establishment of an emergency leadership entity whose actions, Lee’s supporters rightly feared, would result in the two being compelled to give up their seats.