Han Myeong-sook resigned Friday as head of the Democratic United Party, after the main opposition party suffered an unexpected defeat in Wednesday’s general election.
“I am resigning today as the chairperson of the DUP, taking full responsibility for the election outcome,” she told a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Yeondeungpo, Seoul.
In the parliamentary elections, the DUP won 127 seats in the new 300-member National Assembly. The governing Saenuri Party took 152 seats, retaining its majority control of the single-chamber parliament.
The outcome dealt a heavy blow to the opposition camp, as it was seen as a prelude to the presidential election in December.
Early in the race, the DUP was seen likely to win a majority or near-majority of seats, amid a series of corruption scandals afflicting President Lee Myung-bak’s close aides and Saenuri politicians.
“We had a public mandate to bring the administration of President Lee Myung-bak and Saenuri Party to judgment, but failed to fulfill it in the election,” Han said.
The departure of Han leaves the DUP rudderless, with the presidential showdown just eight months away and as rival Saenuri strongly rallies around chief and presidential frontrunner Park Geun-hye.
Han, a former prime minister under the late liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, took charge of the DUP in January, vowing to lead the party to a presidential victory.
Her leadership was brought into question, as the party made a series of mistakes in preparing for the election and selection of candidates.
One of the mishaps was, according to political observers, the nomination of Kim Yong-min as its candidate for Seoul’s Nowon-A constituency. Kim, one of the panelists of a popular podcast show critical of the president, stirred up a controversy with past foul remarks. He lost the race.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)