Representatives of opposition parties and KCTU clap their hands after the meeting to decide on UDP formation at the National Assembly, Dec. 16. (Photo by Kim Myoung-jin)
UDP looks to respect labor, reform big businesses and move toward becoming a welfare stateBy Son Won-je, Staff Writer The Unified Democratic Party became official Friday. The party, which brings together the Democratic Party, the Citizen Integration Party, and the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, completed application procedures for party registration with the National Election Committee Friday and plans to hold an official inauguration ceremony Sunday. New leadership will be selected at a party convention on January 15. As the new major opposition party, the UDP set down a party doctrine and policy platform of a more progressive character than the previous DP. The content includes the achievement of economic democratization with a respect for the value of labor, fundamental reforms to conglomerates and large businesses, the building of a welfare state, and a full reexamination of the newly created general programming television networks. In the spirit of an anti-dictatorship governemnt and the democratization movement, the UDP doctrine agreed upon Friday also included the respect for labor and solidarity of the 1987 Great Workers' Struggle and the citizen sovereignty consciousness of the 2008 candlelight vigils. The doctrine clearly states the party's plans for achieving a universal welfare state by codifying items related to free school meals, child care, and health care, the halving of tuition rates, and residential and job welfare services. It also includes plans for pursuing a full reexamination of all trade policy, including the South Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement.
Yonsei University professor Kim Ho-gi said, "The more progressive approach by the Unified Democratic Party may be of some help later on in differentiating itself from the Grand National Party and solidifying a framework for an election-time alliance with the unified progressive party." "Today, democracy advocates and progressives write a new page in history," said DP chairmain Sohn Hak-kyu in reference to the party launch. "The integration day is not the culmination of a difficult journey but the beginning of a new one. It means we are standing at a new starting point, we should be looking to the people of South Korea as we proceed," Sohn said. Please direct questions or comments to [email@example.com]