SEOUL-- The ruling Democratic Party (DP) on Friday selected its former presidential nominee Lee Jae-myung as a candidate for parliamentary by-elections that will be held concurrently with the June 1 local elections.
Lee, who lost to now President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol only by 0.73 percentage point in the March 9 presidential election, will run for a National Assembly seat representing a constituency in Gyeyang, Incheon, the DP said.
The parliamentary seat in Gyeyang-B district was held by former DP Chairman Song Young-gil but is now up for grabs after Song decided to run for Seoul mayor.
"Our leadership recently asked Lee to run in a by-election for our elections victory, and Lee agreed to that," DP spokesperson Koh Yong-jin said. "We also decided to name Lee as a standing chairperson for our election campaign committee.
Lee, former Gyeonggi Province governor and Seongnam mayor, has never served as a national lawmaker in his career.
Lee has been keeping a low profile since his defeat to Yoon. But following the request of his party and aides, Lee reportedly decided to come to the front to help the DP's victory against its rival People Power Party (PPP) in the upcoming elections.
"Lee needs to lead the whole election landscape," Koh said. "It is our decision to win a parliamentary seat in Gyeyang and make its impact spread to the city of Incheon and other regions."
But others worried Lee lacks a connection with Incheon and his early return may backfire.
Those from the PPP criticized that Lee's bid for a parliamentary seat is aimed at getting arrest immunity. In South Korea, lawmakers cannot be arrested while the parliament is in session without parliamentary consent unless they are caught red-handed.
The PPP has been claiming Lee is the mastermind behind a corruption scandal surrounding an apartment development project conducted in Seongnam, south of Seoul, during his time as mayor of the city.
Parliamentary by-elections are scheduled to take place in seven constituencies concurrently with the local elections on June 1.
For a constituency in Bundang, Seongnam, the DP selected former lawmaker Kim Byoung-kwan.
Source: Yonhap News Agency