The Barun Party is the first party to name its candidate for the presidential race following the impeach of Park Geun-hye. On March 28, the party named Yoo Seung-min as its presidential candidate. In a vote at the Olympic Park in Seoul, Yoo received 62.9% of the vote. Gyeonggi Governer Nam Kyung-pil received 37.1% of the vote (KBS World Radio). This post will examine the short history of the Barun Party and explore–in as much detail possible–the political stance of Yoo.
A New Conservative Party
The Barun Party has a short history, closely tied to the recent scandal. While questions circulated about Park and Choi Soon-sil’s relationship, the ruling party underwent a period of internal strife. The new Conservative party spawned from this period, as Park opposers faced tough opposition in the ruling party.
On January 9, the new Conservative party branded itself the Barun Party (바른정당) using the Korean word for “proper” as its moniker (Korea Herald). Currently, the party controls around 30 seats in the National Assembly (Korean National Assembly; Barun Party*). The Barun Party has expressed major discontent with the ruling conservative party, calling for its leadership to step down and claiming that several other party members had a role in the scandal (Korea Times). Barun has branded itself as a lifeboat for the conservative movement in Korea.
Yoo Seung-min: Barun Leader
Yoo Seung-min is a member of the national assembly, serving his fourth term in the legislative body. He is the chairman of the National Defense Committee and serves on the Strategy and Finance Committees in the National Assembly. Along with a record of national service, Yoo served in many roles in the Grand National Party and was a Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Development Institute (Korean National Assembly, Yoo Seongmin).
In terms of politics, Yoo’s soured relationship with Park caused the Saenuri Party–now Liberty Korea Party–to shove him away from the nomination. Many saw this move as dogmatic, and Yoo promised to run as an independent candidate (Korea Herald). Yoo is running on a platform which he says “will revive the economy and strengthen national security, and establish a virtuous democratic republic” (Korea Times). Also, he has stressed his economic experience, arguing that he will be able to bring jobs back to Korea. He has also promised to fight corruption throughout the government (Korea Times).
Yoo is brandishing typical conservative lines, pushing economic development and strengthening national security as the main aspects of his platform. However, he stands apart from the ruling party line in calling for the ouster of corruption. While unpopular with conservative political elites, Yoo’s stance on corruption may render him better results with the Korean population at large. However, Yoo, being a conservative, will have a very difficult time wooing the Korean public.
The Election Moving Forward
(Image: South Korean election process moving forward. Source: Korean Economic Institute of America)
South Korean politics will be moving in breakneck speeds moving forward. For the 2017 election, the next party to announce its candidate will be the Liberty Korea Party on March 31. Then the People’s Party and the Democratic Party of Korea will announce their candidates on April 4 and April 8 respectively. The candidate will all have around a month to campaign, as the election will take place on May 9 (Korean Economic Institute of America). Many will be looking forward to these selection dates and I promise to write a briefer on each Korean candidate similar to this one.