The ruling Democratic Party on Saturday lashed out at an opposition politician over her controversial remarks on the recent earthquake in the southeastern city of Pohang, calling for a public apology.
Ryu Yeo-hae, a senior member of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), said Friday that the second-strongest quake on record to hit South Korea was a "grave warning" against the Moon Jae-in administration.
Her remarks appeared intended to criticize Moon's campaign to "eliminate accumulated ills," which her party has portrayed as political retribution. But they triggered blistering criticism from the ruling party.
"(The remarks) have apparently thrown cold water on the atmosphere in which the government joins hands with ruling and opposition parties to craft measures to deal with the aftermath of the quake," said Hyun Geun-taek, a spokesman of the ruling party.
"Her remarks also run counter to LKP leader Hong Joon-pyo's pledge to work together with the ruling party to support the recovery efforts," he added.
Hyun then called on Ryu to resign from her post as a member of the LKP Supreme Council and issue an apology to Pohang citizens.
Ryu hit back, arguing that some have distorted her remarks and spread "fake news" about them. She was referring to some rumors that she described the earthquake as "divine punishment."
"There must not be groundless criticism when we have to stand united in overcoming the disaster," Ryu wrote on Facebook. "In particular, we have to root out fake news given that it causes social confusion."
The 5.4 magnitude quake struck Pohang, 360 kilometers south of Seoul, on Wednesday, damaging more than 1,000 buildings, homes and vehicles and injuring dozens of people.