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Interview with UDP Screening Committee Chairman Park

Posted March. 21, 2008 03:00,   


Park Jae-seung, chairman of the United Democratic Party’s screening committee, expressed the current situation as “hopeless” in his exclusive interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, which was carried out early Thursday morning near his house in Apgujeong-dong, southern Seoul. Park halted the screening of candidates for the upcoming general elections after strongly protesting the party leadership’s decision to appoint party secretary-general Shin Geh-ryoon and supreme council member Kim Min-seok as proportional candidate nomination committee officials. The two were eliminated in the nomination list due to past criminal convictions. Although he tried to refrain himself, his anger and feelings of betrayal were evident in his words. The following is the transcript of the interview:

― Co-chairman Sohn Hak-kyu argues that there is no procedural problem in adding the two people in the committee.

“How can I have a face to face meeting with people I have excluded (from running in the elections). Isn’t it a matter of common sense? We must speak with common sense. Simply put, they are saying, ‘It’s your business. If you want to leave, leave.’ I don’t know whether I should take them to the psychiatric ward, or whether I should check myself in.”

― Was there any prior consultation with the party chairman?

“I asked him several times who would be included in the nomination committee for proportional representatives. But he never answered me.”

― Some point out that you should have asked for the authority to form the nomination committee for proportional representatives in the first place.

“I demanded it. But I stopped pushing him because some people thought that I was going too far. I never imagined this would happen.”

― There are those who feel that the party leadership has no choice but to back off since the elections are imminent.

“I don’t agree with them. They will brand me as an irresponsible person, (if I refuse to do my job). Then they will form a new nomination screening committee in a supreme council meeting to nominate whoever they want.”

― Have you been under pressure for another reason besides the issues regarding the proportional representative nomination committee?

“I was informed from the party that there was a discussion on a measure that would make the public nomination screening committee unable to exercise its authority on strategic nominations. However, strategic nominations don’t mean selecting the wrong people. They also discussed several times whether I should be forced to step down.”

― Will you return to work if Co-chairmen Sohn and Park Sang-cheon issue an apology?

“I don’t expect that to happen at all. Look at what they are doing. They don’t even show basic courtesy. I wondered what would happen if these kinds of people become president. The party chairmen are people who want to become president. I’m disappointed. Through this experience, I have learned that (the party) is completely unorganized.”

― Some people say the UDP’s purge of incumbent lawmakers falls short of the Grand National Party’s efforts

“They can do this and that because (the GNP) has a lot of resources. If you want to carry out a shakeup, you need people to replace the outgoing people. But we have more people leaving than coming.”

― Supreme member Kang Geum-sil has declared that she will not run in the elections.

“I don’t know what was on her mind when she said that. She’s even served as a justice minister. I am not sure if she wants a seat as a propositional representative or does not have an interest in running in the elections. I had hoped that she would run in the general elections for a constituency. What does she have to lose even if she is not elected?”

― What is your plan after completing your job in the public nomination committee?

“I have no particular plans. I haven’t practiced law for eight years.