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People First Party Makes Debut

Posted January. 18, 2006 03:00,   


A new political party from Korea’s central region, the People First Party (PFP), held its inaugural convention at Olympic Park, Seoul yesterday with an audience of 15,000 party members and representatives from nine cities and provinces.

South Chungcheong Governor Sim Dae-pyung and Lawmaker Shin Kook-hwan were named co-chairmen of the PFP, while lawmakers Rhee In-Je, Chung Jin-suk and Preparation Committee Chairwoman Park Won-gyung were elected as senior committee members. Out of the nine senior committee member spots, the remaining four will be assigned by the co-chairmen.

Rhee was also appointed to lead a committee to prepare for the May 31 local elections.

The party inauguration declaration said, “We will set the national identity right, and give hope to the Korean people by bringing the new political powers together and eliminate old politics.”

At the convention, about 40 guests from other parties attended, including Uri Party members Kim Nak-sung, Ryu Keun-chan, GNP Secretary General Choi Yeon-hee, MDP Vice Chairman Choi In-kee and Secretary General Cho Jae-hwan.

In an interview with Dong-A Ilbo, Co-chairman Shim said, “We are continuously asked whether we are a ruling or opposition party, left or right, conservative or reformist, but we are centered on the people. The PFP will make a sound society where healthy conservatism co-exists with rational progression.”

Here’s an excerpt of the interview:

-There have been comments that there are too many old timers in the party.

-Korean national soccer team coach Dick Advocaat changed the team’s color with the players that were already there. Although we have some established political faces, soon we should show novelty. I have the same confidence as Advocaat.

-What about criticism that the PFP is limited by being a Chungcheong regional party?

-Does a Chungcheong Party have limits, while Yeongnam and Honam parties don’t? I have advocated for a decentralized party. The center of the party is not Chungcheong Province, but the center of the country, history, geography and people’s minds. We will not stay a small Chungcheong party. We will embrace both the Yeongnam and Honam regions.

-There are rumors that the PFP will join forces with the Millennium Democratic Party at the May regional elections in the metropolitan area.

-Right now is not the time to discuss joining hands with any party or any individual. If it is necessary, then we will review it. We aren’t considering joining with the MDP for regional elections.

-Will former United Liberal Democrats Chairman Kim Jong-pil take part in the PFP?

-Is such thing possible? It is rude to bring up the subject and embarrass someone who has retired from politics.

-Do you think the Constitution needs amending?

-Yes. It is better to have a two-term presidency with four years, rather than a single five-year presidency where people will do everything to win the next presidential election. However, if we can’t change the political culture where they have authority but no responsibility, a parliamentary government will be better.”

-Do you have plans to run for the presidency?

-If the people and party members tell me to throw myself into the ring, and since I have thrown myself into politics, why not?

Dong-Yong Min mindy@donga.com