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South Korea's biggest opposition party changes name... again

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Seoul (AFP)

South Korea's main opposition party changed its name for the second time in three years on Monday as it seeks to forge a conservative alliance against left-leaning President Moon Jae-in ahead of April polls.

The country's political parties have a tendency to adopt new names to sever ties with a tainted past or appeal to a wider audience.

The Liberty Korea Party -- a name it only began using in 2017 as it sought to distance itself from a corruption scandal swirling now-ousted president Park Geun-hye -- has declared itself the United Future party while absorbing into its ranks two minor conservative allies.

The same name was previously used by a minor centrist party in New Zealand that was part of governing coalitions from 2005 to 2017 but has since dissolved.

Liberty Korea was itself formerly known as Saenuri, or New Frontier, a name Park bestowed on it in 2012.

Before that it had been called the Grand National Party, which was formed from a merger of several centre-right parties in 1997.

- 'Solemn demand' -

The organisation has struggled since Park's fall, suffering from defections by lawmakers and splits within the conservative bloc in parliament.

It is now seeking to unify forces opposed to Moon ahead of parliamentary elections in April.

United Future said in a statement that Monday's merger was a response to a "solemn demand of the people to fix the country".

The move means the party now has 113 seats in the 295-member National Assembly.

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