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[Newsmaker] Expectations run high for new ‘boss’

Rep. Kim Moo-sung, who was elected as the chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party at a national convention on Tuesday, is in for a raft of challenges, to say the least.

Both sides of the political spectrum have high expectations for his tenure, in the long term, and his role in the July 30 by-elections, in the short term.

Kim’s actions are expected to vary greatly from those of his predecessor Rep. Hwang Woo-yea, who was criticized for trying to please President Park Geun-hye while being too indecisive with the opposition parties. 
Rep. Kim Moo-sung (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Rep. Kim Moo-sung (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

Kim, a five-term lawmaker, is deemed a charismatic leader. His tendency to push strongly for his agenda earned him the moniker “the boss.”

Although following his ideals and exercising his own brand of politics have not come without a cost, Kim remains true to his colors.

Throughout his chairmanship campaign, Kim repeatedly stated that he will “say what needs to be said” to the president and form a relationship of “healthy tension” with the presidential office.

“The ruling party needs to become the eyes and ears of the president and convey the public opinion to the president, but (the ruling party) has been lacking in this area,” Kim said in the press conference following his election on Monday.

Such statements from Kim have fueled high expectations from his own party and also from the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy.

Following the vote, NPAD spokesman Rep. Yoo Ki-hong congratulated Kim and called for him to lead the reform of the Saenuri Party.

Kim has also said that he will carry out a fair personnel reshuffle, hinting at plans to rid the party of factionalism.

He has expressed indignation about factional categorization.

“I am saddened and angered by a small number of people attempting to monopolize power by categorizing (me) as a non-Park (party member). Pro-Park and non-Park will all disappear now,” Kim said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

“(The Saenuri Party) must become the icon of innovative conservatism. Everyone must become one for the success of the Park Geun-hye administration, (for the) reestablishment of a right-wing government.”

Though he dislikes being considered as such, the five-term lawmaker is widely regarded as chief among Saenuri Party lawmakers unaffiliated with the pro-Park Geun-hye faction.

Kim, however, was once one of the “original pro-Parks.” In 2008, Kim formed an alliance of independent pro-Park candidates for the general elections. The move led to more than 10 pro-Park figures, including himself, taking parliamentary seats.

Despite his connection to Park, Kim pursued his own brand of politics and ideals, which pitted him directly against the president over the plans for Sejong City in 2009. At the time, the Lee Myung-bak administration was attempting to alter the plans for the administrative city. While Park opposed the move, Kim proposed his own alternative that was far removed from the original plans.

By Choi He-suk (
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Korea Herald daum