Go to contents

Cheon Jeong-bae’s quick-tempered politics

Posted March. 07, 2015 07:28,   


When asked to select three geniuses hailed from Mokpo (a port city in the South Jeolla Province), many politicians from the Jeolla provinces would select the late former President Kim Dae-Jung, former Rep. Cheong Jeong-bae and the professional go (baduk) player Cho Hoon-hyeon. Depending on the conditions of the question, some of the three are changed. But Cheon is always named as one of the three geniuses. However, Cheon’s recent move does not convince that he is a genius in the politics. The former lawmaker announced on Wednesday that he defected from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) and stood as an independent for the by-election in the West B electoral district of Gwangju City on April 29.

The main opposition party is blaming Cheon’s defection as “defection without justification” and “an action that violates the Gwangju spirit.” However, it is true that there is no proper rival candidate to beat Cheon when it comes to the public’s recognition or influence in the politics. If the party fails to win a seat in Gwangju City, the heart of the Jeolla provinces, the dynamics of the by-election may take a negative turn against the party. Even though the party wants to strategically nominate a competitive candidate who can match Cheon, there is no excuse to go back on the decision to hold a primary election.

In the July 30 by-election last year, the NPAD leadership co-chaired by Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo rejected Cheon who applied for nomination in the Gwangsan B constituency in Gwangju under the excuse that Cheon was too influential to be nominated for Gwangju. Instead, the party pushed ahead with "Gwangju’s daughter" Kwon Eun-hee, the then-chief investigator at Seoul`s Suseo Police Station, as the candidate for Gwangsan B. Cheon may justify his defection that the party blocked his way. There is a similar precedent in which former Rep. Chung Dong-young once left the nest when he was deselected for nomination and came back later to the party. However, from the April 29 by-election, only one year later comes the general election. Politicians sometimes need to accept the damage and wait for the right time to come.

Cheon led "the party reform movement" in the then Millennium Democratic Party with former Rep. Chung and Rep. Shin Ki-nam. After Roh Moo-hyun was elected as the president, Cheon also initiated creation of the Uri Party. Now, Chung has joined "Public Gathering," which declared itself as a gathering of new progressive groups after dissolution of the Unified Progressive Party. Rep. Shin has contributed to form the NPAD leadership led by Moon Jae-in by assuming the role of the chairman of the election committee during the party’s national convention on Feb. 8, even being criticized as pro-Roh (supporters of the late former President Roh Moo-hyun). Attentions are being paid to how the past three musketeers who have made different choices, Cheon, Shin and Chung, would meet or part with one another after the by-election in April. Maybe, no permanent comrade exists in the world of politics.