Comeback Queen Park Well Placed For S. Korea Presidential Run
South Korea's Saenuri – New Frontier Party, the remake of the Grand National Party, surprised the experts by hanging on to a majority in Wednesday's parliamentary elections.
Although the party lost 10 seats and must now work with a miniscule majority of 152 seats in the 300 member Assembly, it overcame predictions that it would lose power, and a victory is a victory.
The win consolidates the position of the New Frontier leader Park Geun-hye, who lost both her parents to assassins' bullets, as the undisputed leader of the party. She successfully moderated some of her party's positions on the economy and North Korea to hold off the left - and is now well-positioned for a presidential run in December.
Park promised improvements in welfare and job creation. She promised to curtail surveillance of citizens. Her own father, Park Chung Hee, who ruled South Korea for 17 years till his assassination in 1979, may not have approved.
The main opposition Democratic United Party finished with 127 seats, possibly because it was being penalized for its electoral pact with the far left United Progressive Party. Under the pact, the DUP and the UPP agreed on one candidate in each electoral district. This arrangement was of course beneficial in highly contested seats, but overall may have scared some of the voters.
The DUP also was burdened by one of its nominees, Kim Yong-min, a co-host of a podcast show. Kim had achieved fame or notoriety for assailing women, Christians, the United States and even elderly citizens at the height of his career in 2004 and 2005.
For example, he proposed removing escalators and elevators at City Hall subway station in Seoul to prevent the conservative elderly from protesting against what was then a DUP government.
He insulted Christians by saying that “Christian churches in Korea are a kind of criminal gang that should be eradicated.”
Kim's greatest hostility was reserved for the US. He wanted to free Yoo Yeong-cheol, a convicted serial rapist and killer and send him to the US to kill President Bush Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and rape and kill Condoleezza Rice.
Somehow, despite these rather irrantional schemes, he was nominated and efforts to get him to withdraw were abortive.