Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A maverick South Korean politician who previously ran for president abruptly left a party he helped create on Wednesday, citing differences with another leader of the center-right Bareunmirae Party.
Ahn Cheol-soo, a multimillionaire software entrepreneur turned politician, suggested on Wednesday he would create a new party ahead of general elections on April 15, local newspaper Hankook Ilbo reported.
"I am leaving the Bareunmirae Party with a bitter heart," Ahn said, citing a dispute with incumbent party leader Sohn Hak-gyu. "I intend to jump into a massive tidal wave that even I cannot admit to knowing."
Ahn's potential plan to start his own party is likely to face challenges, according to the Hankook Ilbo. Of the seven pro-Ahn politicians in the party, only one lawmaker, Kwon Eun-hee, can defect without affecting future prospects, the report says.
Ahn's return to politics after his defeat in the Seoul mayoral election in 2018 is gaining the interest of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, South Korea's leading conservatives, News 1 reported.
LKP leader Hwang Kyo-ahn said Wednesday conservatives across the political spectrum should "band together and fight," in response to a reporter's question regarding Ahn. Ahn has previously served on presidential councils under former President Lee Myung-bak, a conservative.
Hwang also described President Moon Jae-in's administration as "tyranny" and said unity is needed among the "liberty-seeking right wing" and the "liberty-seeking coalition of citizens" in the country.
Park Hyung-joon, chairman of a conservative coalition, said the "most desirable thing" for Ahn is to join the coalition, extending an invitation to the former entrepreneur who has been credited for launching the first three-party system in Korea in recent times.
Ahead of April elections, parties are launching aggressive campaigns to gain the attention of voters.
Cho Kyoung-taek, an LKP lawmaker, said Wednesday the government needs to do more to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak in China, local network SBS reported.
Cho said Chinese nationals should be temporarily banned from entering South Korea, and Chinese tourists should be repatriated. A South Korean petition proposing a ban recently surpassed 580,000 signatures.