PPP Leader Han Dong-hoon Rejects Presidential Office’s Call for Resignation Amid Controversies

SEOUL - Han Dong-hoon, the leader of South Korea's ruling People Power Party (PPP), has refused the presidential office's request for his resignation, stemming from disputes involving the first lady's luxury bag allegations and issues related to election nominations.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Presidential Chief of Staff Lee Kwan-sup met with Han earlier in the day and conveyed the request for him to step down from his role as chairman of the PPP's emergency leadership committee. In response, Han, through a text message to reporters, stated his commitment to his role, despite a media report indicating that mainstream PPP members supported the presidential office's call for his resignation.

The controversy centers around President Yoon Suk Yeol's dissatisfaction with Han's handling of allegations that first lady Kim Keon Hee inappropriately accepted a luxury bag worth approximately 3 million won (US$2,200) from a Korean American pastor in 2022. This incident has prompted some reform-minded members of the PPP to demand an apology from her. Han, a close aide to President Yoon, acknowledged public concerns over the luxury bag incident but described it as a situation involving a "hidden camera trap."

Further complicating matters is a dispute over the fairness of election nominations within the PPP. Han openly supported Kim Gyeong-ryul, a member of the PPP's emergency committee, to contest a district in Mapo, western Seoul, against a prominent opposition lawmaker for the April general elections. This move, termed as a "private nomination" by some within the PPP, was seen as undermining the party's nomination process and led to internal backlash.

While the presidential office initially indicated that it would not involve itself in the matter of Han's resignation, a separate media report suggested that President Yoon has withdrawn his support for Han due to the nomination controversy. A presidential official, speaking to Yonhap News Agency, emphasized President Yoon's commitment to fair, transparent, and systematic election nominations.

President Yoon's office, on Friday, stated that while the party might review "strategically made nominations," they must adhere to principles and standards to avoid perceptions of preferential treatment.

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