New Trend for General Election - Women Rule Over

By Sung-Won Park and Seung-Heon Lee
Published January 27th 2004 in The Dong-A Ilbo
Kim Young-hwan, one of the spokespersons for the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), drank a bitter glass of soju (Korean wine) while watching a TV news footage of former MBC news anchor Park Young-sun holding a press interview when she joined the Uri Party on January 13.

It was because he regretted that his efforts to persuade her to join his party, even making home visits, were all in vain. However, the efforts put in by the Uri Party to invite Ms. Park make a touching story as well.

Uri Party Leader Chung Dong-young, also a former MBC anchor and senior to Park, persistently persuaded Lawyer L, a close friend of his and also Park’s husband, to invite her.

It was later revealed that Party Head Chung visited Park’s home several times and urged her saying, “I connected you two people, so you have to pay back one way or another even if you cannot present a suit for me.”

Public Nomination Judgment Board Chairman Kim Moon-su of the Grand National Party (GNP) is in process of persuading S, a women’s organization leader, to join the party, making frequent visits.

S is also receiving love calls from the MDP but has not given a clear answer to either of the two parties.

In addition, Rep. Kim Sang-hyun and Kim Kyung-jae, leading members of the MDP, accidentally heard a woman researcher from an institute speak on a radio show and agreed on “bringing her in as a spokesperson” since they were impressed by her appealing voice. They promptly initiated contacting her but did not hear back from her.

All the parties have competitively pledged to allocate 50 percent of the proportional representation seats to women, producing a phenomenon to search for female candidates.

The need for a new face in the male-dominated political world stained with corruption gives rise to the trend as well.

However, some point out that the love calls from the parties to influential personalities are a bubble induced by a “transitory demand surplus.”

The reality that most women candidates avoid “difficult” running in the regional districts reflects this opinion.

The GNP has finished the first set of public nomination application process, and 27 women have applied to run in the regional districts which takes only 3.7 percent of all applications.

The MDP and the Uri Party also finished their application process with 4.5 percent (19 candidates) and 2.5 percent (13 candidates) respectively.

To a great extent, the numbers fall short of the 30 percent nomination rate in the regional district proposed at a gathering of influential women leaders held at the National Assembly building.

“The party headquarters are indiscriminately recruiting unqualified personalities rather than well-prepared female political leaders to use them as ornaments, and now court ladies, not even royal concubines, are going all around the political arena,” criticized a woman representative in the GNP regarding the phenomenon.