(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Sept. 18)

Democratic Party (DP) leader Lee Jae-myung has been on a "hunger strike" for 19 days. As his health worsens, DP lawmakers ask him to end the strike. But Lee does his own thing. We hope he stops the strike before it is too late. A possible emergency from the deterioration of the opposition leader's health could have serious political ramifications.

Lee seems to attribute his sit-in strike to a lack of actions from the government corresponding to his "crusade to stop the domineering governance of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration." But the demands from DP members in a full meeting includes excessive ones, including the resignation of Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and all Cabinet members.

Such nonsensical demands cannot draw sympathy from the general public. The DP's decision to push the impeachment of prosecutors allegedly involved in corruption is also aimed at putting the brake on the prosecution's investigation of their own corruption.

After the DP leader started the hunger strike, suspicions arose that Lee wanted to neutralize the prosecution's request for an arrest warrant for his own criminal charges. He vowed to give up lawmakers' privilege of not being arrested during legislative sessions. But if his health worsens to the point of risking his own life, it could affect DP legislators' vote on a motion to endorse the prosecution's request for his arrest warrant. Lee must stop the strike and proudly appear before the court to get its judgment on his arrest if he really is innocent.

The way the government and the People Power Party (PPP) behaved is not appropriate, either. First of all, the presidential office kept mum on the opposition leader's continued strike. Some PPP members even ridiculed Lee's unbelievably long hunger strike.

But the history of our politics points in a different direction. In 1983, when then-opposition leader Kim Young-sam launched a hunger strike to demand a Constitutional revision to adopt the direct presidential election system, the secretary general of the governing party delivered President Chun Doo Hwan's urge to Kim to stop the strike on his behalf. In 2003, when a conservative opposition leader Choe Byung-yul was on a hunger strike, the presidential chief of staff visited him to request he end his strike.

We hope the Yoon administration — and the PPP — will ask Lee to stop his strike and talk. PPP leader Kim Gi-hyeon posted on Facebook his request for Lee to stop the strike and have a meeting. But it would be even better for Kim to visit Lee to directly deliver his request. The presidential office must accept the DP as a cooperative partner to successfully govern the nation. The voters will show their final judgment in the next parliamentary elections in April.

Source: Yonhap News Agency