[Newsmaker] Hong Joon-pyo sheds governorship for presidential bid

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Apr 10, 2017 - 15:06
  • Updated : Apr 10, 2017 - 18:11
Liberty Korea Party presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo stepped down as South Gyeongsang Province governor three minutes before the midnight deadline, which effectively blocked a by-election for his former post while keeping him in the race for the presidential office.

Hong had until now been prevented from conducting his campaign due to his status as a civil servant. The deadline for public office-holders to resign to run for the May 9 presidential election was midnight Sunday.

Liberty Korea Party presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo (Yonhap)
“A strong leadership is needed to overcome the crisis of politics, national security, society and economy. (I) will have eyes only for the people,” Hong said at his resignation ceremony Monday.

Saying he will “roar like a Korean tiger” in the run-up to Election Day, Hong said he will create a strong right-wing administration that can effectively deal with China, the US and other international powers.

Hong timed his resignation meticulously to prevent a by-election for the gubernatorial office, which he claims would waste billions of won.

Under the Public Election Act, a by-election for Hong’s previous office must be held, as 14 months remain in his tenure. The act also mandates that a by-election be held at the same time as the presidential election if the need for one is confirmed at least 30 days beforehand.

Hong’s resignation, since it was submitted online to the provincial election commission at 11:57 p.m. Sunday, was processed Monday -- 29 days before the presidential election.

Hong’s action was met with fierce criticism from his rivals and a criminal complaint from a nongovernmental organization, whose members threw salt -- traditionally used to ward off evil -- at the former governor.

Rivals including Bareun Party candidate Rep. Yoo Seong-min called Hong’s move a “cheap trick” and called for a revision to related laws to prevent such actions in the future.

By Choi He-suk (