June 17, 2021 11:40
The main opposition People Power Party has seen a surge in new members since 36-year-old Lee Jun-seok was elected as its new leader.
The PPP said Tuesday 800 new members applied on last Saturday and Sunday alone.
Until the party's convention last week there had been fewer than 10 new applicants a day to join the conservative party, which typically attracted elderly people. That means there has been a 10-fold rise in the new applicants.
"Various online certification processes are required for party membership, and it looks like most of the new applicants are young people," a party official said.
Meanwhile, Lee got his single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in a hospital in northeastern Seoul on Wednesday. Born in 1985, Lee is a reservist, which makes him eligible for the vaccines the U.S. has sent for Korean soldiers.
But the honeymoon may not last long. Online stories have already that Lee is only pretending to be an average Joe by riding a bicycle to work but has been pedaling it in Ferragamo loafers. The media-savvy PPP leader promptly uploaded a photo of the shoes proving they are Korean-made and priced at W100,000-200,000 (US$1=W1,117).
In a Chosun Ilbo podcast interview, Lee also responded to allegations that he is too brash for the staid, deferential party. "Vegetables can't be soft and crunchy at the same time," he said. "I'd like to thank others for pointing that out and I'll try to behave, but if I start reflecting all of the complaints others make, I'd turn into a weird hybrid like warm iced coffee."
Asked whether he has a girlfriend, the unmarried leader said, "Yes, I do have a girlfriend. But she's not someone well known." Asked to comment on rumors that he made a lot of money from cybercurrency speculation, Lee said, "I earned enough money for three to four election campaigns. I used to be a programmer, so I was able to develop a program that automatically invests in cryptocurrency."
But he was careful to distance himself from the taint of his mentor, disgraced ex-President Park Geun-hye, who brought him into politics.
"I never went to see her in prison nor have any plans to do so," he said. "I want to be a successful party leader and let her believe that she did the right thing. I hope she finds solace in the fact that I was elected as the party's leader."
"I want to thank Park. If she did not recruit me, I would not be here. But I believe the impeachment was justified."
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