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New political party that succeeds DJ

Posted July. 13, 2015 07:20,   


“I won’t make any excuse as I failed to keep the promise with the public,” said Kim Dae-jung (DJ), the chairman of the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, when he announced a comeback to the politics on July 13, 1995. The announcement of return came two years and seven months after he announced his retirement from the politics on the next day he lost to Kim Young-sam (YS) in the 14th presidential election in December 1992. DJ’s comment on the comeback was not well received as he said when leaving the politics, “I failed to earn the trust from the public again. I will go back to live a quiet life as an ordinary citizen leaving evaluation to the history.”

The news came as a shock to the politics. The presidential office and YS criticized DJ`s return saying that the honesty is the life of politicians. Democratic Party leader Lee Ki-taek opposed to the return and said, “This is conceiving misfortune of the Korean politics.” However, lawmakers of the Donggyo-dong faction (which was led by DJ) called for resignation of Lee, who can be figuratively compared to a paid CEO, when the practical owner or a leader of the party came back. When Lee refused to resign, DJ created a new party named National Congress for New Politics. This is so-called DJ party, which has become the foundation for winning of the 15th presidential election.

DJ’s comeback was possible since there had been political demand for it. In the early stages, the YS administration got praise for bold reform and measures, such as public disclosure of assets owned by high-ranking officials and the real-name financial system. However, the administration lost momentum after the reform came to an end and a series of large-scale man-made disasters occurred such as collapses of Seongsoo Bridge and Sampoong Department Store. DJ realized strong support from the voters during the campaign across the nation for the local election on June 27, 1995. Continuing the winning streak from the local election, DJ finally became the president of Korea, which reminds of François Mitterrand who won the presidential election after having lost three times. It shall be the public who makes a judgement over DJ’s return or its merits and demerits.

Ruling Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung once called the party "Yeongnam party" as the party garners the majority of its support from the Yeongnam region, the southeastern region of Korea. Likewise, the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) can be called "Honam party" as it is based on the southwestern region of Korea. Recently, there is a rumor around the party, which has succeeded the spirit of DJ, that some of its members would create a new party. It can be attributed to the sentiment of the Honam region, the party’s biggest supporter, which does not recognize the current party leader, Moon Jae-in, as a successor of DJ. Another influential political figure from the region Chung Dong-young has failed to win the presidential election. Although a rising political figure Chun Jung-bae is gathering his supporters, it would not be easy for the region to produce a politician like DJ. It would be better for voters in Honam area to pay attention to grow politicians who receive supports from the entire public, not just from a specific region.