Park has new group to attract overseas votes

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Park has new group to attract overseas votes

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박근혜 전 대표

A group of Park Geun-hye supporters will launch today an organization to strengthen overseas networks and attract Korean voters living abroad in an apparent bid to support her likely presidential run.

Started by Grand National Party Representative Jeong Kab-yoon, the organization, called Great Korea, will have its opening ceremony at the National Assembly Library this afternoon. Park is scheduled to attend.

“Because Koreans living abroad now have suffrage, I decided to create the organization to create a network of overseas supporters,” Jeong said. “We will focus on promoting Park’s image as a global leader and expanding connections.”

Starting next year, nearly 2.3 million Koreans living abroad will be able to cast ballots in Korean elections, an untapped treasure trove of voters for presidential contenders as the outcomes of past presidential elections have sometimes been decided by about 500,000 votes.

The new organization’s membership includes former government officials, including former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo. Jay C. Kim, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, also signed on and is expected to support Park’s campaign in the United States.

Heads of Korean associations from around the world as well as members of the World Federation of Overseas Korean Traders Association are also to participate.

Among GNP lawmakers, 10 have said they would join. Only two, including the head of Great Korea, are Park loyalists, while others are Lee Myung-bak loyalists or centrists.

Great Korea is one of Park’s many supporters’ groups that have sprung up ahead of her likely bid for the Blue House. Hope Forum is Park’s supporters’ group in Korea and boasts strong organizational networks in major cities and provinces. Its key members include politicians, scholars and former government officials who had been members of Park’s 2007 GNP primary campaign. Park’s think tank, the National Future Institute, was launched in December. About 80 experts from academia, government and business have joined the group.

According to local media, Park has contributed an article for an upcoming issue of Foreign Affairs magazine on Korean Peninsula affairs and diplomacy. Experts at the National Future Institute reportedly advised her for the piece, while they and Park have remained tight-lipped about the article’s content.

Park is one of the few South Korean politicians who has met the North’s Kim Jong-il. During her 2002 visit to Pyongyang, Kim made a series of promises to her aimed at improving inter-Korean relations, such as building a permanent reunion facility for separated families. The pledges have yet to be realized, and Park’s stance on the North has continued to be conservative.


By Ser Myo-ja, Kim Jung-ha [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [연합뉴스]

'친박 재외국민조직' 내일 발족

박근혜 재외동포 표심 공략에 역할 주목

내년 대선을 앞두고 재외동포의 표심을 공략하기 위한 친박(친박근혜)계 재외국민 조직이 출범한다.

친박 인사로 국회 예산결산특별위원회 위원장인 정갑윤 의원은 18일 오후 국회도서관에서 '대한국(Great Korea) 포럼' 창립식 및 창립세미나를 연다.

정 의원이 대표를, 역시 친박계인 윤상현 의원이 부대표를 맡는 이 포럼에는 친박계를 중심으로 한 한나라당 의원들과 한승수 전 국무총리, 김창준 전 미국 하원의원 등 30여명이 창립 회원으로 참여할 것으로 알려졌다.

또 외국 각 지역 한인회장 등 재외동포와 외국에서 활동 중인 인사, 재외동포 최대 경제단체인 세계해외한인무역협회(World-OKTA·월드 옥타) 소속으로 각국에서 활발한 경제 활동을 벌이고 있는 한상들도 회원으로 참여할 것으로 전해졌다.

포럼은 세계무대에서 한민족이 중심적인 역할을 하는 방안을 모색해 보자는 취지지만, 내부적으로는 박근혜 전 대표를 위한 재외국민 선거조직의 성격이 강하다는 평가가 지배적이다.

창립식에는 박 전 대표가 참석할 예정이나 축사를 할지 여부는 아직 불분명하다. 박희태 국회의장과 한나라당 홍준표 대표도 참석해 축사를 할 것으로 알려졌다.

현재 당내에서는 친이(친이명박)계 외곽조직으로 알려진 '뉴 한국의 힘'이 작년 중반부터 캘리포니아, 뉴욕, 뉴저지 등에서 발대식을 갖고 세 구축에 나선 것으로 알려졌다.

박 전 대표의 경우 해외 주요 도시에서 팬클럽 형태의 소규모 지지 모임이 생기고는 있지만 이를 전반적으로 관리하는 조직은 없다.

그동안 친박계 내에서는 이경재 의원이 적극적으로 재외동포 단체들과 접촉해온 것으로 전해졌고 미국에서 오래 공부한 서상기 의원도 재외 과학자들을 중심으로 재외국민 네트워크 구축에 공을 들이고 있다는 후문이다.

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