Former speaker Chae Mun-shik dies

  • Published : Jun 28, 2010 - 16:39
  • Updated : Jun 28, 2010 - 16:39
Former National Assembly Speaker Chae Mun-shik died at his home on Saturday. He was 86.

He was born in Mungyung, North Gyeongsang Province, in 1925, graduated from the political science department of Seoul National University and began a political life in 1971.

In that year, he took a nationwide proportional seat in the 8th National Assembly on the ticket of the now-defunct opposition New Democratic Party.

He was then re-elected to the National Assembly five times in a row.

Chae Mun-shik
He was an NDP lawmaker representing the Mungyung and Yecheon district in the 9th and 10th Assemblies, the now-dissolved ruling Democratic Justice Party lawmaker from the same electorate in the 11th and 12th Assemblies, and a DJP lawmaker representing the nationwide constituency in the 13th Assembly.

He served as National Assembly Speaker from 1983 to 1985 as a fourth-term lawmaker. It was the first time a fourth-term lawmaker had become speaker. The record remained unbroken for 23 years until Lim Chae-jung was elected speaker as a fourth-term lawmaker in 2006.

Chae was president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in 1980 and president of the South Korea-Netherlands Parliamentarians’ Friendship Association in 1981.

His life was marked by the turbulences of the modern Korean history. He was one of the leaders of the rightist student movement shortly after the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. At the age of 24, he became chief administrator of Mungyung, his hometown. Later, he was promoted to a director in charge of finance in the home ministry.

After he left public office, he pursued a career in news media and academia -- an editorial writer of the Daegu-based Yeungnam Ilbo in 1950 and a professor of Myongji University in Seoul in 1961. In 1971, he stepped into politics as an NPD lawmaker. As a third-term NPD lawmaker, he became the party spokesman, but stayed away from the mainstream. Rather than opposing the Park Chung-hee regime directly, he understood Park’s achievements.

The opposition lawmaker in the 8th to 10th Assemblies changed his political affiliation, being elected on the ticket of the ruling party in the 11th to 13th Assemblies.

Even as a ruling party lawmaker, he was not among party insiders. In the closing days of the Sixth Republic, then President Roh Tae-woo backed Kim Young-sam, a leader of the Democratic Liberal Party, as candidate for the next president. Chae and several other lawmakers turned against the Kim camp, and tried to put forward a single candidate from another faction of the party.

As Kim won the presidential candidacy from the DLP in 1992, Chae participated in the creation of the New Korea Party. But the new party dissolved, prompting Chae into retirement from politics.

He lived a low-profile retirement. He served as president of a friendship society of former lawmakers and as chairman of the corporate body managing Korea University and its affilates.

His body is being kept at Seoul National University Hospital, and his funeral service will be held at National Assembly on Tuesday. He will be buried in the National Cemetery in Daejeon, South Chungcheong Province.

He is survived by three sons and one daughter.