Nine lawmakers of the splinter conservative Bareun Party declared Monday that they are leaving to join the main opposition Liberty Korea Party(LKP).
Their move signals a major shift in the political landscape and the beginning of a grand coalition of the conservative camp.
The nine lawmakers who had been calling for a merger with the LKP issued a statement Monday saying they decided to quit the party based on the belief that conservative forces need to unite in order to seek a new alternative.
They said the state of the nation is too grave to be arguing about small differences of opinion or past mistakes. They added that conservatives must unite at all costs for the future of the country.
The nine include six-term lawmaker Kim Moo-sung and acting party chief and floor leader Joo Ho-young.
The group acted on their decision to leave the party after the LKP decided to expel the ousted former President Park Geun-hye.
Bareun Party lawmakers held a four-hour meeting Sunday night to broker a last-minute deal but failed to stop the split.
With the departure, the party loses its status as a parliamentary negotiation group as its parliament seats go down to eleven while the LKP will see its seats rise to 116.
The breakaway of Bareun Party members has also dealt a blow to the People's Party.
Its chairman Ahn Cheol-soo has been seeking a policy coalition with the Bareun Party. He said the split was expected and he will continue to pursue a joint policy front.
However, other members of his party have criticized his move as degrading the image of the People's Party and hurting its political clout.
All these changes portend a major political shakeup.
The National Assembly will now have a three-party structure.
If more Bareun Party lawmakers join the LKP, the conservative main opposition could possibly become the largest party as it holds just five seats fewer than the ruling Democratic Party.
The Bareun Party is expected to prevent any more departures and push for a policy alliance with the People's Party. But this does not appear to be easy with the People's Party embroiled in its own troubles.