How the heavyweights fell and rose
The general election was a barometer for the presidential election in December in two ways. First, it showed the prevailing public perception of the major parties. Secondly, it dashed the hopes of some potential presidential candidates and spurred others on.
The former fate befell Hong Joon-pyo, former chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, who was forced to bow out of politics after failing to get re-elected in his constituency of Dongdaemun, Seoul. Hong, a four-term incumbent, won 36,181 votes, or 44.5 percent, having been vanquished by the Democratic United Party’s Min Byung-doo, who won 52.9 percent.
“I am putting an end to my 30-year-long public stint,” Hong said in a Twitter message Wednesday night. “I am now a man of freedom.”
Chung Mong-joon, another presidential aspirant from Saenuri, secured his sixth parliamentary term and momentum for a presidential bid with a victory in Dongjak B District of Seoul, but it was considered not a very robust victory. Chung won 50.8 percent of the votes compared to 44 percent for the DUP’s Lee Kye-ahn.
“It was like a World Cup penalty shootout,” said Chung, former FIFA vice president, about how he felt about watching the results come in.
Lee Jae-oh, a close aide to President Lee Myung-bak, managed to weather the anti-Lee administration storm to win a fifth parliamentary term, narrowly edging out Cheon Ho-sun from the Unified Progressive Party in Eunpyeong B District, Seoul. Lee won 49.5 percent to Cheon’s 48.4 percent.
Chung Dong-young, the former DUP Supreme Council member who lost the last presidential election to Lee, threw down the gauntlet in the affluent Gangnam area, a conservative stronghold, and lost to Kim Jong-hoon, former trade minister and Saenuri’s key negotiator of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, by 59.5 percent to 39.3 percent.
Moon Jae-in, a close aide of former President Roh Moo-hyun and a rising presidential hopeful from the DUP, secured a parliamentary seat in the conservative turf of Busan, but his victory over Sohn Su-jo, a Saenuri rookie, by 55.0 percent to 43.8 percent in Sasang District was considered moderate given his pre-election popularity.
It was a clear victory for Lee Hae-chan, former prime minister, who defeated regional power Sim Dae-pyung from the Liberty Forward Party by 47.9 percent to 33.8 percent in Sejong City in Chungcheong.
Kim Tae-ho, a Saenuri lawmaker, lived up to his nickname of “master of elections” by defeating Kim Gyeong-su of the DUP in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang.
By Moon Gwang-lip [firstname.lastname@example.org]