The Korea Herald


DP leader Sohn to run in by-election

By 배현정

Published : March 30, 2011 - 19:15

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Ruling GNP expected to field a matching rival in key Gyeonggi constituency

Sohn Hak-kyu, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, announced his decision Wednesday to run in the upcoming April by-elections, making the race highly intense and unpredictable.

At a news conference, Sohn said he would run for a legislative seat in the Bundang-B constituency in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province.

“I have decided to enter the race in the by-elections in order to prove that the people of this country are able to overcome political biases,” he said.

“We should overcome the meaningless conflict between the conservative and the liberal and embrace the opportunity to unite as one.”

The corresponding constituency of Bundang-B has traditionally been in favor of the ruling Grand National Party.

Sohn, by urging voters to make independent political decisions in April’s by-election, thus officially sought to take away votes from the GNP in the area.
Democratic Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu attends a party meeting in Gimhae, South Gyeong­sang Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap News) Democratic Party leader Sohn Hak-kyu attends a party meeting in Gimhae, South Gyeong­sang Province, Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

The corresponding district was originally expected to be the battle field between Sohn and former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan.

However, situations changed as Chung was recently blown down by a morality scandal due to the revealing autobiography published by Shin Jeong-ah.

After the crippled Chung gave up on the by-election candidacy, speculations arose that Sohn would not risk his political leadership in a fight which he had relatively low chances of winning.

In-party opinions were also divided up to the last minute on whether he should devote himself to the Bundang electoral race.

However, the party leader made up his mind to take on the challenge.

“I have decided to place the interests of the party ahead of my own,” the former Gyeonggi governor said.

His decision was also due to the fact that the party failed to find any qualified candidate other than Sohn available for the race.

By challenging the Bundang-B legislative seat, Sohn would be risking not only the party’s success in the by-election but also his political chances for next year’s presidential race, in which he is considered to be a major candidate.

On the other hand, should he win the by-election, he will be able to prove his leadership and consolidate his status as potential state leader as well.

The GNP, in response to Sohn’s decision, pledged to defend their ground by selecting a matching rival.

“We must win the race in the Bundang-B constituency by all means and will thus choose the best candidate,” said a GNP official.

The scandal-stricken former prime minister is not an exception and may also be considered an option, in case no other cards are left available for the party.

Chung, however, again explicitly denied such possibility.

“I have already given my answer and that is a no,” Chung told reporters Wednesday, shortly after Sohn announced his plan to run for office.

While high figures are expected to confront each other in the disputed constituency, parties are also gearing up in other areas of the nation, including Gangwon Province and Gimhae-B constituency.

By Bae Hyun-jung (