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Assembly elections: the fallout

Here are some tidbits of what’s happening in the aftermath of the Assembly elections.

  • Han Myeong-Sook steps down.  No surprise there. Moon Seong-Geun, an actor, civil rights activist and son of the late pastor Moon Ik-Hwan, is the interim head of the DUP. The party will hold a convention in June to elect the new leadership.
  • Park Geun-Hye enjoys election bounce.  Support for her was on the upward trajectory, and now she is solidly leading Ahn Cheol-Soo. In the latest poll setting Park and Ahn head-to-head in a hypothetical presidential election, Park led Ahn 45.1% to 35.9%. Park also led Moon Jae-In, 47.7% to 31.4%.
  • Where in Korea was Park Geun-Hye?  Check out this interesting diagram that shows all the places Park had been during the campaign season. Note the strong emphases on Seoul/Gyeonggi, Busan/Gyeongsangnam-do and Gangwon-do.
  • The 20s in Seoul showed up.  If there is a small black cloud in Park Geun-Hye’s clear sky, it is this — voters in their 20s in Seoul showed to vote in record numbers, at 64.1% participation rate. The votes of those in their 20s tilted Seoul heavily toward progressives’ favor, perhaps the lone bright spot for the leftists in this election.
  • The exorcism continues.  We haven’t heard from Lee Joon-Seok, the 27-year-old member of the NFP Emergency Response Committee, in a while. Well, apparently he was saving up for this one — Lee called for NFP to expel elections winners Kim Hyeong-Tae and Moon Dae-Seong, even at the cost of losing the Assembly majority. Moon famously plagiarized approximately 1/3 of his Ph.D. thesis word-for-word. Kim is suspected of attempting to rape his sister-in-law, who was married to his dead brother. (How’s that for depravity?) I would be pretty darn impressed if the NFP does go through with this.
  • Break glass.  In case of emergency, to access Ahn Cheol-Soo. And the progressives are definitely in emergency. The progressives’ call for Ahn to save the day is getting louder, as several prominent progressive leaders publicly pleaded Ahn to take action. What Ahn will do in the next weeks will set the tone for the next six months leading up to the presidential election.
  • Hello, goodbye.  How do we know this was a closely fought election? 74 new Assembly members are under investigation for violating election laws, exactly double the number of the winners who were investigated after the last Assembly election. In the last election, 15 winners ended up losing their seats for election laws violation. Open seats will be filled with a by-election that would happen along with the presidential election on December 19. As it is reasonable to expect 20+ seats, it will be a fun sideshow for the presidential election.
  • DLBarch

    It’ll also be interesting to see how many, or if any, successful candidates have their victories tossed for campaign violations. Presumably, Park Joo-sun is at the top of this list.

    My understanding is that electoral victories that are invalidated will have their seats determined via by-elections held the same day as the presidential election in December. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

    So this could get even more interesting.

    DLB

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Very good point. I will add another bullet point on that topic.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Han Myeong-Sook steps down.

    Praised be the Lord

    If there is a small black cloud in Park Geun-Hye’s clear sky, it is this — voters in their 20s in Seoul showed to vote in record numbers, at 64.1% participation rate. The votes of those in their 20s tilted Seoul heavily toward progressives’ favor, perhaps the lone bright spot for the leftists in this election

    It is truly a small cloud. This pattern seems to be common in any industrialised nation and shouldn’t be too worrisome for PGH for basically 2 reasons:

    1) Young voters turnout is notoriously volatile, prone to sudden rise in enthusiasm and participation (Obama ’08), followed by a quick return of disillusion and whatever attitude (Obama ’12 ?)

    2) Korea is not a particularly young society, i’m not sure i would want to campaign hard to win the millennials support at the risk of alienating other, more relevant constituencies

    Going into the future i see 2 other reasons why Korea could remain after all a conservative country:

    1) If Korea will exhibit the same behaviour of other advanced nations, as soon as these 20′s are out of their current age group and stabilise their life they’re very likely to move to the center ( or center/right) of the political spectrum. Progressive allegiance doesn’t seem to stick up that much with age

    2) The 20′s demographics is bound for an even smaller level of significance,under the current demographic trends

  • jkitchstk

    “If there is a small black cloud in Park Geun-Hye’s clear sky, it is this — voters in their 20s in Seoul showed to vote in record numbers, at 64.1% participation rate. The votes of those in their 20s tilted Seoul heavily toward progressives’ favor, perhaps the lone bright spot for the leftists in this election.”
    Aren’t Koreans known for changing their minds overnight? In this case we’re talking many months so they have a lot of time.

    “The progressives’ call for Ahn to save the day is getting louder, as several prominent progressive leaders publicly pleaded Ahn to take action.”

    But can he debate, it’s not like there is a very high standard here? Wait until he speaks, Sarah Palin? I wonder how much time he’s spent in the classroom, Ahn would be an American late night talk show wet dream.

    “So this could get even more interesting.”

    Maybe a little but according to who, Koreans by and large don’t think so. At least that’s what they tell me. I’m still waiting to hear about election bribery.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    I don’t understand why Park GeunHye has so much support.

    She was the first lady of Korea from 1974~1979, from when her mother was assassinated until her dictator father was assassinated.
    During this time, activists who were political opponents of her father were subject to arbitrary detention, and human rights were out the door.

    She apologizes for this in 1997 (a bit late) and everyone says, OK! We like you!

    She is also the “Notebook Princess” (수첩공주; 手帖公主), as she grew up as a privileged child in the “royal” presidential family and has been very taciturn, only speaking publicly from prepared manuscripts sometimes.

    I could never trust somebody like that. Who wants a president who has a bad history, rarely makes a speech, and only makes speeches from prepared scripts.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    I had no idea how many seats could be up for bi-election. If the conservatives blow it in the autumn we could yet see a very left-wing government at all but a few provincial levels. Does anyone have a break down on how many of those contested seats are conservative versus “progressive”?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Just wanted to thank TK for yet another great post.

  • ziffel

    Kang Ki-Gap: I’m surprised the Marmot hasn’t lamented his loss. Without a Hanbok-wearing dude wielding a chainsaw, the National Assembly gag-concert just got a little lamer. I chalk up the loss to showing up at the polling station, clean-shaven, in a Western coat-and-tie, to vote for himself; bad karma that. As Sacha Baron Cohen apparently knows, you step out of character and you risk losing your mojo.

    Han Myeong-Sook: You can’t obtain the various positions she has without being a savvy ladder-climber, so she’s clearly shrewd. But once she obtains those positions, she underperforms. No different this time. In no small measure responsible for the DUP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Kim Yong-Min: That said, this 꼴통 didn’t do the DUP any favors either by sticking around to get continually DP’ed by the likes of 조,중,동 and others. (The Chosun, for one, ridiculed him by putting a picture of him, dressed in church vestments, arms raised, under the headline: “한국정치가 창피하다.”) You can argue that the readership of the 조,중,동 wouldn’t have voted for him anyway, but the real (I think intended) effect was to goad him into obstinately staying in the race, which he did.

    To what extent was he really a millstone for the opposition? The exit polling data don’t really offer a clear answer, but I think it’s fair to say he didn’t help them. The data are also consistent with the opinion of TK and others that it was more of a win for the conservatives than a loss for the progressives.
    http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/04/14/2012041400190.html

    Park Geun-hye: Unlike Han, she has both good political instincts and competent leadership, especially concerning elections. She’s flying high in the polls right now. Which is why, IMO, now would be the perfect time to “short” her prospects for the presidency (were it possible via InTrade or some other vehicle). For a number of reasons, including just a gut feeling, I just don’t think it’s going to happen (her winning in December).

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I just love how in one corner, we have the child of Park Chung-hee, and in the other, the child of Moon Ik-hwan.

    BTW, looking for quotes from Moon Ik-hwan, I came across this winner of a piece by Ian Buruma in the NYT from 1988. A fond look back at what people used to believe:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/27/magazine/the-quarrelsome-koreans.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

  • fffaaa

    PGH is so popular in part because she’s a strong female presidential candidate. That’s refreshing to voters in many ways, not the least because it marks a visible change from presidents past. Won’t happen, but if the DUP played things right they’d get Ahn Cheol-Soo to throw all his support behind a female candidate.

  • yuna

    More about Moon Daesung
    as an IOC member what a shame..
    A lot of academics who go into politics or vice versa seem to have plagarism issues, or maybe it’s jut that it gets found out more often. What a big shame, to get done for copying after the olympic gold medal. Why do they even bother with the PhD’s.

  • yuna

    plagiarism

  • http://throughwhiteyseyes.blogspot.com whitey

    That Ian Buruma piece was great. Thanks for linking it.

  • YangachiBastardo

    I just love how in one corner, we have the child of Park Chung-hee, and in the other, the child of Moon Ik-hwan

    Mdern politics seem to be more and more a dynastic affair, i guess another sign of the comeback of the feudal and serfdom age

    허경영 in 2012 !!!!!

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Year of the Dragon #5
    I don’t understand why Park GeunHye has so much support.
    She was the first lady of Korea from 1974~1979, from when her mother was assassinated until her dictator father was assassinated. During this time, activists who were political opponents of her father were subject to arbitrary detention, and human rights were out the door.

    Well, you might not have heard, but something also happened with the economy and quality of life for common people during that period. Civil and human rights, and the opinion of the outside world about this nation, were only some of the factors of the presidency, besides many others.

    You might consider that people of cultures & situations different than your own may hold different values than you do; in particular, the way they estimate the balance of importance between the first factors I mentioned here and the ones that you are concerned with — they just might have a different evaluation of those years than a typical Westerner would.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    #9

    Even the young riot policemen, lurking at the entrance of every subway station and at every intersection, look less thuggish, more bourgeois in their brand-new designer-style gray and white ski jackets.

    Thanks for the 1988 article Robert. It’s good to read something published 24 years ago, from the view of a journalist back then.

    I would like to know if the author (Ian Buruma) has been back to Seoul recently, and what he thought now. At the time he wrote that article he was living in Hong Kong, he is now living in New York. (He speaks six languages, and is now working on Human rights in China).

    you might not have heard, but something also happened with the economy and quality of life for common people during that period

    #15 I knew the economy improved during that period, but how did the quality of life for common people improve – whilst they were being rounded up and electrocuted?

  • yuna

    I don’t understand why Park GeunHye has so much support.

    I once asked the same question about Berlusconi to my Italian friends.
    They had many interesting things to say. Amongst which they said,
    “Italians like to buy brands and they like recognized brands. They see a familiar face that has been around for ages and they just vote for him”
    I don’t know if I agree but it might be somewhat similar.
    Then they went on to add that actually S.Berlusconi was a robot (that’s why he has a rigid face filled with preservative and he is functional for so long), and they might wheel out the next model in his son who has already been a familiar figure when the old model cannot be greased any longer.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    > but how did the quality of life for common people improve –
    > whilst they were being rounded up and electrocuted?

    Well, that’s your misconception right there — they weren’t.

    A relatively small number of “activists” publicly speaking-out and demonstrating for civic, labor and human rights (and anti-war, anti-USA, anti-ROK, anti-Japan, a complex mix) were oppressed and suppressed, detained and abused, some lost their employment, some killed. Some were willing agents of Pyeongyang, others falsely accused of being so. Today they are more-or-less regarded as heroes of Korea’s Democracy Movement, which is mostly fair. But we’re talking about some thousands of Koreans –perhaps reaching 10,000?

    Meanwhile, the great majority of common people got opportunities to overwork & be exploited, in exchange for substantially better lives, giving their children undreamed-of hope, opportunities and luxuries (the current middle-agers; not to mention their grandkids the current spoiled-brats), and watching their nation grow strong. Most of them thought it a fair bargain; they and their kids still do. Many of them had support & sympathy for the activist-victims above, but more did not.

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  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Meanwhile, the great majority of common people got opportunities to overwork & be exploited, in exchange for substantially better lives, giving their children undreamed-of hope, opportunities and luxuries (the current middle-agers; not to mention their grandkids the current spoiled-brats), and watching their nation grow strong.

    Exactly the same thing can be said about Kim Il-Sung in the 1960s, Adolf Hitler/Benito Mussolini in the 1920s, etc. It’s a classic justification of fascism. It was lucky for Park Chung-Hee’s legacy that he was actually shot to death, because yushin amply showed that it was only a matter of time before he would have done much more damage to Korea’s freedom.

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  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Personally, I don’t think he could’ve done much more damage to the korean’s freedom than he already had, there wasn’t much more left to go. I think he would have stumbled along in increasing international isolation as the protests got bigger and more violent, until the middle class finally joined in, and what happened to Chun would have happened in to him.

    > Exactly the same thing can be said about Kim Il-Sung in the
    > 1960s, Adolf Hitler/Benito Mussolini in the 1920s, etc.

    I think you mean the 1950s and 1930s, respectively…? Anyway, it just happens to be true — one of those inconvenient and dislikable truths — dictatorial regimes are a shortcut to industrialization, can accomplish it much faster than liberal democracies. That means that fascists and communists can indeed improve the standard of living of their common people, especially the poorest among them, at a rapid rate, while at the same time severely restricting their freedoms (but hopefully not launching a holocaust or a World War).

    This seems to work pretty well for about a decade, then the economic benefits stop and the repression increases — if guys like Mussolini, Kim, Castro and Mao would have just stepped down and opened up the entire system after their first decade, they’d be remembered as national heroes instead of criminals. From that perspective, Park was “lucky” that he was shot while he was still more hero than criminal, before he reached the evil levels of those others…

    Just because you don’t like this reality doesn’t mean that it’s not true.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Anyway, it just happens to be true — one of those inconvenient and dislikable truths — dictatorial regimes are a shortcut to industrialization, can accomplish it much faster than liberal democracies. . . . Just because you don’t like this reality doesn’t mean that it’s not true.

    I cannot agree that it is indisputably true that dictatorial regimes are a shortcut to industrialization. But the truth or falsity of that proposition is besides the point.

    The question at hand — the question that Korea must grapple with in the next presidential election — is this: what is the proper moral stance toward such dictatorship-fueled industrialization? That is the question implicit each time anyone asks why PGH has any following in Korea at all. Are we to admire those dictators? Are we to beautify their legacies? Are we to concede that freedom is an unfortunate impediment to prosperity, and accept its infringement in exchange for a piece of bread? Are we to keep our head down, keep our opinions to ourselves, fear and love Big Brother, as long as we keep ourselves fed?

    My answers to all those questions are a clear “NO.”

  • cm

    Do you honestly seriously believe Park Geun Hye is a dictator? Really?

  • cm

    From the article mentioned above:

    “The new generation, he explains, is nationalistic, but in an analytical way, unlike the emotionalism of previous generations: ”We want to be equal partners with the United States. The U.S. Government must understand the feelings of the Korean people, who have been invaded hundreds of times by foreigners.” Lee believes that United States pressure on the Korean Government to import American beef and cigarettes is deeply resented, and could galvanize the students to stage demonstrations, which the opposition would support.”

    Substitute American beef and cigarettes with American mad cow and FTA with America, it sounds exactly like Korea of today. Somethings have not changed at all and the leftist movement has never evolved beyond their radical ideology.

    This is why Koreans should give a real critical look with a healthy dose of skepticism at today’s progressive leaders who were part of those stone throwing radical students in 1988.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    You really gotta learn to have better reading comprehension, cm.

  • cm

    My reading comprehension is fine.

    Park Chung Hee’s regime was not a dictatorship, it was a mild form of authoritarianism most of its time, similar to Francoist Spain of 1970′s. Call it what you want to call it, but Park Chung Hee is the only modern Korean leader ever, who gave the country the confidence to take itself by its own boot straps and gain some discipline where it was sorely lacking.

    Today’s Korean Progressives look like the South Vietnamese politicians during the 1973 North Vietnamese offensive – full of moles, traitors, agitators, anti-socialists, and nincumpoops who thought they knew what they were doing, but didn’t have a clue.

    And no TK, I’m not calling the people of your kind of political persuasion, commies. Just incompetent, stupid, annoying, stooges. But we still need these people because Korea is a democracy.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Park Chung Hee’s regime was not a dictatorship . . . And no TK, I’m not calling the people of your kind of political persuasion, commies.

    Thanks for the laughs.

  • cm

    And no thanks to you, for taking my comment out of its context.

  • DLBarch

    This thread has kinda drifted off course, but for what it’s worth, the website http://www.realmeter.net has some exit polling on last week’s election that’s worth deciphering, if you can read Korean.

    Full disclosure: I don’t know anything about Realmeter or how reliable its polling is. The polling sample was 750 voters, which seems small.

    Anyway, here is the breakdown of the results re: what influenced voter preferences:

    22.3% Kim Yong-min’s remarks and DUP’s (silent) response
    16.1% Which party promised “economic democracy”
    14.9% The government’s illegal spying on civilians
    10.7% The DUP’s threat to repeal the FTA
    9.7% The DUP’s “manipulation of public support” (I confess I have no idea what this means)
    5.1% NoKo’s rocket preparations
    3.7% The Navy base on Jeju Island

    Make of it what you will.

    DLB

  • cm

    Latest trade figures after the FTA with the US:

    25% increase in exports, with a huge jump of inbound direct foreign investment. The living cost increases have also eased, as prices in supermarkets and department stores are coming down with wider variety of US goods available at a more affordable prices. If this pattern of good news keeps up, the DUP/UPP coalition of the evil, will be in big trouble. They will need to convince the Korean public that this FTA needs to be junked, at the expense of angering the United States. What will they do, and how will they get out of this mess they stupidly created themselves?

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    I don’t know anything about Realmeter or how reliable its polling is.

    It’s a good place. Progressive-leaning, but strives to be more scientific than anything else.

    9.7% The DUP’s “manipulation of public support” (I confess I have no idea what this means)

    That’s referring to the alleged manipulation of the opinion poll that served as the primary for the DUP-UPP candidates. 이정희 (i.e. public enemy no. 1 for conservatives) was involved in it, which made the issue more explosive.

  • R. Elgin

    I would agree with CM regarding PCH’s time as being a odd “form of authoritarianism”. I think that he was very much a manifestation of the psychological needs of that time and not an aberration of government. I draw this conclusion when I reflect upon the comments I’ve heard from older Koreans that were youth during that period of time.

    What would blow my mind is if the new North Korean leader had the moxy and imagination to come to Seoul and and address the nation directly and eloquently, embarking on a PR campaign; perhaps some would vote for his tenure and unification would become a reality unforeseen.

  • bumfromkorea

    Park Chung Hee’s regime was not a dictatorship, it was a mild form of authoritarianism most of its time, similar to Francoist Spain of 1970′s.

    … Dictatorship is a form of authoritarianism, and Park’s regime wasn’t a “mild” version of that (especially after Yushin). Just because Park’s regime wasn’t a totalitarian dictatorship doesn’t mean that it wasn’t oppressive or abusive.

    I draw this conclusion when I reflect upon the comments I’ve heard from older Koreans that were youth during that period of time.

    Considering the level of media control/suppression PCH had at the time, I’m not at all surprised.

  • bumfromkorea

    Jesus, I mean… at a certain point, you’re literally saying “Oh, so he killed and tortured a few innocent civilians. Who cares? We’re all rich now, aren’t we? The victims were probably commies, anyway.”

  • YangachiBastardo

    My 2 cents:

    DLB: the thing that kinda made me mmmh was that overall this it’s not the economy, stupid. Korea seems like a relatively fractured society in terms of social direction with some unspecified desire of more economic equality, but not obsessed yet with financial worries…i guess it’s good

    cm: a lot might have to do with a high base-effect, as prices spiked last year. Yet i think this would be an interesting subject of discussion for Koreans and Korean residents: you feel prices are still roaring or you think they’re stabilising ?

  • DLBarch

    YB,

    As I’ve indicated before, I remain largely an economic determinist when it comes to election forecasting, so will just observe that it is VERY difficult for any party or coalition of parties to oust an incumbent party from power where there is an overall environment of economic growth and/or low to moderate inflation.

    There were a LOT of good reasons to “throw out the bums” in last week’s election, and Korea certainly faces pockets of economic insecurity, but overall Korea is experiencing something of a golden age right now, and that is a very difficult environment for any opposition to wage a campaign based on voter discontent.

    So I think it was “It’s the Economy, Stupid,” but just not in the way the opposition had expected. North Korea’s saber-rattling and the DUP/UPP’s missteps were just icing on the cake for the NFP, or whatever it’s called this week.

    DLB

  • brier

    I wonder if PGH’s success this time around will unleash a wave of women entering politics in a few years time. I know she has been involved in politics for the last 15 years or so, and rates of women’s participation in politics has increased during this period, but maybe we are about to see a vast increase. PHG is the original ‘gold miss’, she trail blazed the role even before it was one. She is loaded, she’s got style, and she has a sense of self. Currently, with a huge demographic bubble of ‘gold miss’ women entering their spinster years, will they not want to contribute like PGH did? They’ve got the finical independence, the education and sense of self to do it.

    Or maybe I should have another cup of coffee and lay off the keyboard.

  • YangachiBastardo

    I once asked the same question about Berlusconi to my Italian friends

    OT but as you brought it up…i beg to differ entirely. The only reason why me, and others i know, voted for crazy grandpa, despite the fact we’re perfectly aware of the fact he’s a scumbag, a senile loony, an ineffective crook and possibly a pedo is that we FUCKIN HATE THE LEFT !

    We simply don’t want ‘em voted into power, no matter what. We don’t want the tax-everything-that-move-regulate-everything-that-doesn’t crowd.

    We do not want to put in charge a bunch of public servants in their 50′s or a bunch of creative class wannabes, who think the reason why this country doesn’t have a significant amount of FDI is cause of lack of gay marriage.

    We do no want the people who led us into this disaster called the Euro and think the future of this country is being the junior partner in a coalition with the French and German bankrupted scum.

    We do not want the idiots who think that Monti shitbag actually saved this nation.

    We do not wanna be like a third rate version of Sweden minus the small population, the vast natural resources and the technology or France without the nukes.

    Or Nu Labour England without the City or Zapatero Spain minus the real estate bubble.

    We know perfectly this bucket of pig vomit we call Italia is doomed to fail with a loud bang, we prefer to wait for Armageddon while having a good, bitter laugh watching the straight-out-of-last-days-of-Caligula crowd Berlusconi brought into power than suffering under a bunch of boring, equally inept and corrupted, pontificating imbeciles.

    Oh and remember, our dear Western “allies”, Russia has nukes, we have BTP’s