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Seoul’s Dongjak B emerges as ‘new hub of politics’

Posted July. 09, 2014 02:01,   


Seoul’s Dongjak B District has emerged as "new hub of politics" ahead of the July 30 by-election. Previously, Seoul’s Jongno District was considered the hub of politics, and now this seemingly has shifted to Dongjak B. When former lawmaker Chung Dong-young ran for president at the 18th general elections in 2008, former lawmaker Chung Mong-joon changed his constituency from Ulsan to the district to stage a showdown between political heavyweights. As Chung Mong-joon resigned as lawmaker to run for Seoul mayor after winning the 18th and 19th general elections in succession in Dongjak B, a by-election is set to take place in this district. Of the 15 districts up for grabs in the upcoming by-election and re-elections nationwide, Dongjak B is the only constituency at stake in Seoul, adding to the significance of the election there.

The ruling Saenuri Party is internally anxious, because it has yet to find a competitive candidate. Saenuri persistently urged former Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo to run in the district. As Kim rejected the offer to the end, the party is earnestly asking former lawmaker Na Kyung-won to run instead. With the deadline for candidate registration just around the corner (Wednesday and Thursday), the party leadership is highly nervous because no competitive candidate seeks to run while Na has yet to give clear answer.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy is embroiled in intense internal dispute due to "preferential nomination" as its candidate Ki Dong-min, former vice Seoul mayor for political affairs. Heo Dong-joon, who was excluded in the nomination process, continues a sit-in protest at the party chairman’s office for six days. Question also lingers as to why the party picked Ki. Rumors have it that the selection was made by its co-chairman Kim Han-gil, who sought to streamline the sophisticated mechanism for nomination for the by-election within the party, and took into consideration “halo effect of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.” Floor leader Park Young-sun of the party said, “There is a survey result suggesting that many Seoul citizens want a lawmaker who can assist Mayor Park.” Others claim Park requested Ki’s nomination to the party. It is hard to know for now what the truth is, however.

Declaring his candidacy, Roh Hoe-chan, former chairman of the Progressive Justice Party, criticized the NPAD, saying, “It is very arrogant.” He thus claimed that the NPAD’s secretary-general tried to dissuade him in public from running in the election. The main opposition party is apparently anxious about a situation wherein the ruling party gains unintended election victory, if a political heavyweight such as Roh joins the group of opposition candidates. Moreover, "coalition among candidates of the opposition camp" is implausible unlike in the past. Even so, it is a far cry from "new politics" to urge a member of another party to refrain from running in the election.

Editorial Writer Lee Jin-nyong (jinnyong@donga.com)