Moon's guys regroup as Lee's standing staggers by scandals

Moon's guys regroup as Lee's standing staggers by scandals

Some Moon administration officials are reported to establish a policy forum to commemorate Moon’s legacy. In South Korean politics, so-called policy forums often function as campaign outposts, and I suppose this would also be the case here.

The name of the forum, Sauijae四宜齋, is very symbolic. The forum’s invitation obviously likens Moon to Jeongjo, the reformer king of Joseon, and themselves to Dasan. (I’m not going to go deeper into the 86 generation’s penchant for medieval Joseon here.)

The Moon administration was exceptional in many ways during its days, and it continues to be so even after its days were over. Moon himself, who repeatedly said he wants to live a calm life and be forgotten after his term, is living a quite vibrant life, not mincing his words in criticizing the current government—as his New Year’s greeting letter below shows—and publicizing meetings with his old guards.

There’s a simple reason for all this: Moon, even after his failure to sustain Minjoo’s hold on power, is still the only pivotal figure around which Minjoo politicians can gather.

The current Minjoo head Lee Jae-myung’s days are numbered. As the torrent of reports coming out of the prosecutors’ office shows, he left too many fingerprints in multiple scandals. I don’t see any chance for him to get away with all this.

Minjoo has been working hard to protect Lee with the lawmaker’s privilege, but now you can see cracks even among Lee’s loyalists as some suggest Lee shouldn’t drag the party into his own messes.

It was far from subtle that Moon was also taking a distance from Lee. While Lee posted photos of him paying a visit to Moon on New Year’s Day, Moon only posted a photo of him and his old guards. (Remember, Lee is the current head of his own party.)

Is this… a Gossip Girl episode?

It’s hard to imagine that Minjoo can run a successful campaign for next year’s general election with Lee as the head. Soon there will be demands for a new party leadership.

One big problem is, however, that Minjoo’s bullpen appears pretty much empty now, including the pro-Moon faction. The big shots of the old days are gone, either having fallen to disgrace or killed himself. That’s why Lee was able to run as Minjoo’s presidential candidate in the first place.

Thus I suspect that this whole regrouping is about paving grounds for Moon’s new protégé. I have some candidates in my mind, but that will be for another story.