The new floor leaders of the ruling and main opposition parties took office on Wednesday with the shared goal of highlighting the presence and role of their respective parties.
The Democratic Party’s new floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun is a hard-liner who aims to step up pressure on the government, while his Saenuri Party counterpart is Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan, a key ally of President Park Geun-hye.
Along with Choi, Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon was elected to lead the party’s policy committee.
Rep. Jun Byung-hun (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Jun began his career in the political arena in 1987 in the defunct Party for Peace and Democracy, which was founded by late President Kim Dae-jung.
From relatively humble beginnings, Jun went on to serve on the presidential staff for Kim, and to win three consecutive parliamentary terms from 2004.
Choi began his political career under the wings of Lee Hoi-chang, who once commanded the support of the conservative bloc.
Although the three-term lawmaker served as the minister of knowledge economy during the Lee Myung-bak administration, his political allegiance is with President Park. While Jun and Choi have very different political views and backgrounds, the two new floor leaders both hope to strengthen their parties presence in the political arena.
Jun has emphasized his intention to strengthen the Democratic Party’s role as the opposition party throughout his campaign, claiming that he would press the ruling party and the government to address issues faced by the public.
“I think that my being selected by the lawmakers is an expression of their resolution to face the current crisis with a clear presence, as the vivid Democratic Party, as the capable Democratic Party,” Jun said in his acceptance speech.
Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Choi echoed similar but contrasting view, saying that he would strengthen the Saenuri Party’s role in supporting the government while at the same time keeping it in check.
“(Lawmakers) told me to make the party into a strong ruling party that keeps the government in check and at the same time support state affairs,” Choi said.
“I will do my best to work for the party so that the (Saenuri Party) lawmakers can work with the pride of being a member of the ruling party.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org