Bar the unqualifiedThe rift between the Gyeongsang and the Jeolla provinces has inhibited political development in South Korea since the general elections in 1988.
Politicians from the Gyeongsang provinces were always wary of Chun Doo Hwan, Roh Tae-woo, Kim Young-sam, Lee Hoi-chang, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak. In contrast, Kim Dae-jung was essentially the main politician from the Jeolla provinces.
National Assemblymen should worry most that their constituents believe that the legislative body is working properly. However, they have been more focused recently on party politics than on their work as legislators, especially those who have been members of the National Assembly for a long time.
Of the 68 seats in the Gyeongsang provinces, the Grand National Party takes up 62 seats. Among the candidates waiting to be nominated, 18 have been National Assemblymen for more than three terms.
Just because they are old or they have been elected too many terms doesn’t mean they should be barred.
However, we should seriously inquire whether they have indeed contributed to the nation and National Assembly in proportion to the number of terms served.
We should examine in detail how many laws they have passed, their attendance at meetings, their interpellation activities and their reputation in their constituencies. The same applies to candidates running for the first time and to incumbents as well.
It is said that 30 percent of incumbents will be dropped. However, we should look beyond the percentage and simply bar anyone who is unqualified. Candidates should not be nominated as weapons to attack party factions. People should be barred from running whether they are part of Lee Myung-bak’s or Park Geun-hye’s faction.
All 31 seats in the Jeolla provinces are held by the United Democratic Party. A National Assemblyman who has served several terms has not hesitated to criticize the United States.
Some members earned credit by engaging in a fierce ideological debate during the turmoil of former President Roh Moo-hyun’s impeachment four years ago.
Park Jae-seung, head of the UDP nominating committee, has contributed to changing 30 percent of UDP candidates in the Jeolla provinces, which is essentially a revolt against Kim Dae-jung. The party should now move out of his shadow.