Democratic Party Denies Nomination to Moon’s Ex-Chief of Staff in Key DistrictSouth Korea Joins Forces with Southeast Asian Nations to Combat Drug Trafficking

Seoul - In a move that could deepen internal divisions, the Democratic Party (DP) on Tuesday decided against nominating Im Jong-seok, a former chief of staff under the Moon Jae-in administration, for the upcoming April 10 parliamentary elections in his home district of Seoul's Jung-Seongdong. Instead, the party's nomination committee selected Jeon Hyun-heui, a former Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission chairperson, as its candidate. Im Jong-seok, who had served two terms as a lawmaker for the district and sought the nomination, now faces uncertainty over his political future within the party.

According to Yonhap News Agency, this decision reflects ongoing tensions and the potential for exacerbating the rift within the party, particularly among members not aligned with current party leader Lee Jae-myung. Critics have labeled the exclusion of certain members from nomination as a "massacre" of non-mainstream factions within the DP. The nomination committee's choice to bypass Im Jong-seok for Jeon Hyun-heui has sparked allegations of sidelining members outside the pro-Lee faction, further complicating the party's preparations for the upcoming elections.

The committee's reluctance to nominate Im Jong-seok for his traditional stronghold—and instead hinting at his possible candidacy in Seoul's Songpa Ward, where his victory prospects are deemed low—has added to the controversy. This stance comes amid claims from Im Hyug-baeg, the committee's chief, that members of the Moon administration should bear some responsibility for the current political landscape.

This decision coincides with a broader discontent within the party, as several lawmakers have voiced their opposition to what they perceive as biased nomination practices. These practices have resulted in demerits for lawmakers associated with the non-Lee faction, affecting their eligibility in party primaries. The growing dissatisfaction has led to notable departures from the party, including Rep. Kim Young-joo, Rep. Noh Woong-rae, and Rep. Lee Su-jin, among others, who have criticized the leadership's nomination strategy.

Rep. Park Young-soon's recent announcement of leaving the DP after being placed in the bottom 10 percent in legislative activity further underscores the escalating tensions. Park plans to join a new party led by former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, signaling a significant realignment within South Korea's political landscape.

Despite these upheavals, both DP Chairman Lee and nomination committee chief Im Hyug-baeg have defended the nomination process as fair and equitable. However, the majority of those securing direct nominations without primaries are perceived to be close to Lee Jae-myung, suggesting a potential bias that could influence the party's unity and electoral strategy.

Seoul - South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) announced on Tuesday the establishment of a consultative body with intelligence agencies from five Southeast Asian countries aimed at intensifying efforts against drug trafficking. The inaugural meeting, which included representatives from Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand, focused on addressing the surge in drug trafficking activities in the region, particularly through cyberspace.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the collaboration will facilitate real-time information sharing on cross-border drug crimes and the development of a coordinated response strategy. This initiative comes in response to the increasing challenge posed by drug smuggling into South Korea, with over 70 percent of drugs seized within the country believed to originate from the Golden Triangle area, encompassing the border regions of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. The partnership underscores the growing concern over drug-related crimes in Asia and the commitment of these nations to curb the menace collectively.

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