The Korea Herald


Samsung technician-turned-lawmaker to start political party

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : June 12, 2023 - 14:56

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Independent Rep. Yang Hyang-ja (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald) Independent Rep. Yang Hyang-ja (Im Se-jun/The Korea Herald)

Rep. Yang Hyang-ja, an independent lawmaker who was formerly a chip technician at Samsung Electronics, is poised to set up a new political party.

Yang, 56, will hold a launch ceremony for the party at the KBIZ Hall of the Korea Federation of SMEs in Yeouido, Seoul, on June 26. The launch ceremony will include an announcement about the new party, including information on the party's members. Yang's office told The Korea Herald on Monday no further information could be provided.

Yang is the latest lawmaker to have put in a bid to found a new party in South Korea, where the National Assembly is practically controlled by two parties -- the ruling People Power Party and main opposition Democratic Party of Korea.

Former lawmaker Keum Tae-sup, a dovish liberal politician formerly affiliated to the Democratic Party, had expressed his intention to create a new party with the support of former Democratic Party Chairman Kim Chong-in.

Yang is the only lawmaker in the Assembly with expertise in the field of semiconductors. She started working at Samsung Electronics in 1986 and worked as a memory chip technician for decades. She served as a Samsung Electronics executive dedicated to flash memory semiconductors beginning in 2014.

Yang entered politics in 2016. Winning a general election in 2020, she has since represented the Gwangju Seo-gu Eul electorate.

In July 2021, Yang was expelled from the Democratic Party due to revelations that one of her secretaries had sexually harassed a colleague and she had been involved in the cover-up. Yang has remained independent since.

Yang sought to return to the main opposition party after police decided not to seek charges against her, but she later withdrew the bid in opposition of the party's legislation to curtail the power of the nation's prosecution.

In 2022, Yang helmed a special committee sponsored by the People Power Party, which resulted in legislation in December that advocated for a tax break of at least 8 percent for chipmakers to boost the nation's semiconductors industry.

She is currently under a standing committee dedicated to trade, industry, energy, small and medium-sized enterprises and startups at the National Assembly.

The next general election for the National Assembly is to be held in April next year.