|President Yoon Suk-yeol and ruling People Power Party (PPP) chief Han Dong-hoon shake hands at the site of a market fire in the central county of Seocheon, South Chungcheong, on Jan. 23, 2024./ Courtesy of Presidential Office
By AsiaToday reporter Park Ji-eun
President Yoon Suk-yeol and ruling People Power Party (PPP) chief Han Dong-hoon met Tuesday at the site of a market fire, sending a message of reconciliation two days after their conflict.
Both sides seemingly rushed to repair their relationship after the conflict, which occurred with only two months ahead of the general elections. The presidential office is reportedly considering inviting the ruling party’s leadership to the presidential office soon.
According to the presidential office, Yoon and Han traveled separately to the central county of Seocheon, South Chungcheong, to inspect a fisheries market destroyed by a fire the previous night. Yoon shook hands with Han and tapped him on the shoulder in a friendly gesture. In response, Han bowed deeply as a courtesy and smiled.
After exchanging greetings, they were briefed on the damage by firefighters and encouraged them for their hard work in putting out the blaze in the intense cold and snow.
The visit was organized spontaneously, with arrangements made only late Tuesday morning.
After being briefed, Yoon ordered the government to do its best to contain the fire by mobilizing all available sources and immediately review the possibility of designating the area as a special disaster zone, which would make it eligible for the government’s financial support in recovery work, relief funds for victims and other benefits. The fire that broke out the previous night did not cause any casualties, but destroyed 227 shops in the market.
After visiting the site, Yoon and Han took the presidential train together back to Seoul.
“The misunderstanding is likely to be resolved quickly,” said PPP Rep. Lee Chul-gyu, a Yoon loyalist, during a radio interview with broadcaster KBS. “Any conflicts will be reconciled without a doubt.”