Sohn Hak-kyu goes all in, declares candidacy for National Assembly
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Sohn Hak-kyu goes all in, declares candidacy for National Assembly

Even by South Korea standards, Sohn Hak-kyu has had an up-and-down political career.

We was member of the National Assembly and then a popular governor of Gyeonggi-province and member of the Grand National Party.  Seeing his ambition to secure the GNP’s nomination for president overshadowed by then Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak and former GNP chairwoman Park Geun-hye, Sohn bolted from the party and walked the land for several months before landing in the United New Democratic Party.  The UNDP was an amalgamation of president Roh Moo-hyun’s Uri Party and elements of former President Kim Dae-jung’s Democratic party.  Sohn threw his hat in the ring for the UNDP’s presidential nomination, but lost to Chung Dong-young. 

Following Chung’s ignominious defeat in the general election to Lee Myung-bak, the party turned to Sohn, electing him party chairman.  Sohn successfully negotiated a party merger with the remnants of the Democratic Party to form the United Democratic Party (which later simplified its name to the Democratic Party*). 

That uniting of forces was not enough to prevent the party from being steam-rolling by the GNP in National Assembly election in April of 2008.  Sohn himself lost his bid to win a National Assembly seat in Seoul.  Sohn took responsibility for the defeat and resigned.

But we had not heard the last of Sohn Hak-kyu.  Taking advantage of a split among the more progressive elements of the party, Sohn once again won the party’s chairmanship in October of last year.


Korean Democratic Party chair Sohn Hak-kyu

Now he is putting his 4-2 election record on the line with another run for public office; this time for a National Assembly seat in Bundang, a suburb of Seoul, during by-elections on April 27.

While putting his hat in the ring, Sohn defend a decision that will nesecitate his paying less attention to other races that day (see link above):

I believe the way to victory is for the general to stand at the front fighting rather than remaining at the rear.

Of course, most military experts with tell you that generals should spend most of their time in the rear, from where they can direct the activities of their army along the entire theater of operations, not just where they happen to be.  Sohn had been campaigning for the Democratic Party in an expected close race for the governorship of Gangwon province and is by all accounts an active campaigner, but his decision to run for office in Bundang will limit his ability to aid candidates in other races.

The current political winds favor the Democrats.  Should Sohn win his seat amid a Democratic sweep of the four major races on April 27, he will solidify his status as the front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination next year.


* That merger compleated a cycle begun when loyalists of President Roh Moo-hyun bolted from the Democratic Party in 2004 to form the Uri Party.