Ex-actor off to strong start in politics

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 16, 2012 - 19:20
  • Updated : Jan 16, 2012 - 19:20

Moon Sung-keun, renowned for his charismatic performances on the silver screen, made an impressive debut on a political stage Monday as one of the new leaders of the main opposition Democratic United Party.

The 59-year-old former actor garnered second most votes in the DUP’s leadership vote Sunday, after former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook. Han became the chairwoman of the DUP. Moon and four other runners-up were given seats in the party’s top decision-making Supreme Council.

“I thank you all for the support. The revolution has just begun. Ordinary people will be able to influence, or even directly participate in, our party’s decision-making process,” Moon wrote on his Twitter account on Monday.

Young people familiar with Twitter and other social networking services played a key role in the political novice’s rise to the DUP leadership above many incumbent lawmakers and veteran politicians, who command strong support from party members. 
Moon Sung-keun

Moon garnered 16.7 percent of support, ahead of two-time lawmaker Park Young-sun who came in at 15.74 percent and veteran lawmaker and former opposition floor leader Park Jie-won who earned 11.97 percent.

His election is also viewed by the media as the return to frontline politics of those loyal to the late former President Roh Moo-hyun, who committed suicide in 2009 amid a corruption investigation.

Moon is credited with playing a part in Roh’s election in 2002.

Along with fellow actor Myeong Kye-nam, Moon formed a supporters’ group for Roh, then an underdog candidate, which eventually helped build Roh’s momentum.

After Roh’s death, he started a grassroots movement to consolidate the then-fragmented liberal opposition. He secured signatures from nearly 180,000 voters across the country, urging liberal political forces to unite against the ruling conservatives in the next presidential election in December.

Yet, he refused to be seen as just a Roh loyalist.

“I think that is a tactic to bisect liberals into pro-Roh and pro-Kim Dae-jung groups,” he told a radio program Monday.

“I was close to former President Kim from 1976.”

During a courtesy call on Lee Hee-ho, the wife of Kim, he also said Kim Dae-jung was the reason why he moved to politics.

“I wanted to continue to pursue an acting career. But (in a meeting in 2009) former President Kim Dae-jung looked straight into my eyes and told me to go fight. That was when I decided to enter politics,” he said.

Moon is the son of Rev. Moon Ik-hwan, who fought for democracy along with Kim Dae-jung under the military regime led by Park Chung-hee in 1970s.

By Lee Sun-young (