Daughter, Born to Dictator but Reborn to Dynasty?

South Korea’s Presidential election is about to be held on Wednesday, December 19. Voter turnout from primarily younger generation would be essential for the opposition’s win. 

Lee Yu Kyung – 

It is familiar scene in Asia that a daughter, a wife or a sister would succeed to her father, husband or brother’s legendary power through‘apparently’democratic means though. Or, Regardless of sex in fact, the second generation of powerful families have often grabbed main stream arena of politics.

Yet, South Korea has been a notable exception. The country has rather witnessed children of the two previous presidents have gone through severe legal procedures of their political and business involvements. As a presidential election is imminent, however, concerns over simmering ‘dynasty politics’ have been growing not only in domestic but also regionally and internationally.

Dynasty  politics  

Tearsheet of the article in German version published by Neues Deutschland on December 19

Tearsheet of the article in German version published by Neues Deutschland on December 19

Park Geun-Hye, a candidate for the conservative ruling Saenuri Party,  is a daughter of the former dictator Park Jung-Hee,  who had ruled the country for 18 years with iron fist during 60s and 70s. She has played a de facto first lady role after her mother died in 1974. Her father’s totalitarian rule is remembered by many while others share the nostalgia of the authoritarianism, under which rapid economic growth was seen. Throughout the campaign period, she has been slightly but constantly leading over her main opponent Moon Jae-In , a former human rights lawyer and a candidate for the liberal   Democratic Unity Party (DUP).  The two are competing truly neck and neck as latest polls have shown Park led over Moon with a narrow half-a-percentage-point.

“Our expressed concern comes from the shock that even a close success of dictators’s second generation to political power is possible in a country like South Korea.”

552 intellectuals from 58 countries around the world, have issued a joint statement titled “Stop the Dictator’s Heir to Power” last Saturday.

One signatory Dr. Cynthia Cockburn,  leading member of Women in Black against WAR  in the UK, pointed out ;

“Associated as she is with the dictator Park Jung-hee, not only by family heredity but also by political philosophy”

In a desperate effort to prevent Park’s probable presidency, Ahn Chol-Soo,  the independent candidate who is highly popular  among young generation and educated urban population, has conceded his candidacy to Moon about a month ago. He has been appealing supporters to vote for opposition Moon, who is now considered an united candidate for opposition.

In a similar bid, Moon’’s  UDP  has allied with the left-wing Progressive Justice Party , which split faction from the United Progressive Party (UPP)  after devastating vote rigging scandal in the general election last April.

The key accused on the scandal was UPP,  which has its own presidential candidate Lee Jung-Hee.  However, Lee also has dropped out from candidacy on December 16, days before the election. The resignation was another desperate bid to deter Park’s victory. Thanks to her TV debate skill, Lee has recently gained supports upto more than 1%. This could be a decisive factor in this neck and neck race, where voter turnout from liberal, progressive or younger generation would be crucial.

, “It will be a national disaster if Park  becomes president of the country. I will foil revival of Dakaki Masao”   Lee stated.

Dakaki Masao’  is a Japanese name of Park’s father, who was also a former Japanese military officer during the colonial time.

Interestingly, the result of general election in Japan held on Sunday(Dec. 16) is implicit in its neighbor’s presidential election. In Japan, right wing forces won overwhelmingly and Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), which wants resurgence of Japanese military power and neo-colonialist expansion in East Asia, back to power. Besides, the country would see yet again a dynasty politics as the leader of LDP,  Shinzo Abe  who is a second generation of the Abe  family in the Party, would be a new Prime Minister.

“If Park  succeeds, rightist would swing the East Asia. If Park  fails, it would be almost clear that this election be the last one, in which the conservative has got advantaged in South Korea.”

Maeng Chan-Hyeong,  a senior political correspondent from Yonghap TV  said.

Apart from the case of Japan, Park’s success would even complete the two Koreas’ Dynasties along with her counterpart Kim Jung-Eun,  the third generation in Kim  dynasty in North Korea.

Meanwhile, there are two more left candidates who have not resigned such as Kim So-Yeon from New Progressive Party. The former unionist’s camp is almost irrelevant to the mainstream candidacy, pledging ‘President of working class’.

“Left forces have been catalysts in democratization. But they are nearly wrecked due to the vote rigging scandal early this year. This has reasoned that liberal figure Ahn has enjoyed excessive supports”

Cho Hee-Yeon, a chairperson of the National Association of Professor for Democracy (or NAPD) analyzed. Nevertheless, Prof. Cho values left candidacy.

“If the main opposition candidate Moon  assumes the presidency, we need more progressive forces and labor politics to reform the new regime. Yet left politics needs to be rebuilt from the debris” indicating the election campaign could be space for it.

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