The Korea Herald
female activist tops Uri proportional seats
By Joo Sang-min
March 29, 2004
The pro-government Uri Party yesterday named a physically handicapped female
civic activist No. 1 in its top of its first 12 selections when it announced its
list of 40 candidates to be elected under the proportional representation
It was squarely aimed at boosting the party's image for the working class and
the underprivileged, party officials said.
Hong Chang-sun, president of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and
Technology, captured the top spot to show party concern for the science and
The party finalized its top 12 candidates as a strategic list yesterday. The
remaining 28 candidates will be decided today when 170 party members and outside
figures vote to designate the standing numbers to them.
The strategic list includes Chung Eui-yong, chairman of the board of the
International Labor Organization, former Defense Minister Cho Seong-tae, former
South Gyeongsang Province governor Kim Hyuk-kyu, and former Environment Minister
Considering recent opinion polls indicating the party rates about 45 percent
of voter support, approximately 27 candidates are expected to garner Assembly
badges under the proportional representation systems.
These are seats distributed to the parties based on how many votes each party
Under the new election law, voters will cast two ballots - one for a
candidate and one for a party. They would elect 243 lawmakers through direct
voting and 56 under the proportional representation system, making the number of
parliamentary seats to 299 from 273.
The Uri Party pledged to fill half of its proportional representation
candidates with women, giving them all odd numbers on the list. Other parties
promised to do the same.
It was an unexpected choice for the party to nominate Jang Hyang-suk, the
46-year-old former co-chairperson of Differently Abled Women United, as its Ace
card in the April 15 parliamentary elections.
"Jang's entry into the National Assembly will considerably change
parliament and the entire society," Rep. Nam Goong-suek said. "Almost
all the members of the screening committee gave her the green light."
Just a year after her birth in Yeongju, in North Gyeongsang Province, Chang
fell ill with polio. She is self-educated and worked as a leader of the
physically challenged civic group then joined the Uri Party last September as
head of the party's special committee for the handicapped.
"I never dreamed of being nominated as No. 1 candidate," said Chang
in a news conference Saturday.
"I will try my best to share my hopes with 4.5 millions of the
handicapped people across the nation."
Those contesting the remaining 28 seats include Han Hang-soo, a former CEO of
a Samsung subsidiary, Yoon Sun-hee, 28-year-old party standing committee member
and Choi Jong-won, a drama actor.
The main opposition Grand National Party is expected to name its candidates
today and the smaller Millennium Democratic Party has yet to finalize its plan
amid the party's factional fighting over the impeachment vote.