The Korea Herald


Old guard of the left makes return to parliament

Senior Democratic Party politicians triumphant; Choo Mi-ae eyes National Assembly Speaker role

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : April 11, 2024 - 14:20

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From left: Park Jie-won, Choo Mi-ae, Chung Dong-young (Yonhap) From left: Park Jie-won, Choo Mi-ae, Chung Dong-young (Yonhap)

Members of the center-left Democratic Party of Korea's old guard, each of them with political careers spanning several decades, made a splendid comeback in Wednesday’s general election in South Korea.

The victories of Park Jie-won, Choo Mi-ae and Chung Dong-young are expected to give more strength to the opposition camp, which delivered a crushing defeat to President Yoon Suk Yeol and his conservative People Power Party.

Choo, who will be returning to the National Assembly for a sixth term, looks set to assume the role of National Assembly Speaker, as the longest-serving lawmaker from the largest negotiating bloc.


Park Jie-won


Park, a four-term lawmaker who served as President Moon Jae-in’s intelligence chief until 2022, made a resounding victory as a legislator.

He won 92.35 percent of the vote, defeating his rival from the People Power Party for the constituency of Haenam, Wando and Jindo, South Jeolla Province.

At 81, Park was the oldest candidate running in this election. He will serve his fifth, four-year term as lawmaker. He will be 85 when his term ends in 2028.

During his campaign, the veteran politician hit back at concerns over his old age, repeating that he is “not an old boy, but a strong boy.”

“I will fight to the end against the wrongdoings of the Yoon Suk Yeol administration,” Park said, following the victory.

Park entered politics after meeting the late former President Kim Dae-jung in the 1970s and had long been known as a close aide to Kim, often referred to as“DJ (Dae-jung)’s forever chief secretary.”

Park first joined the 14th session of the Assembly in 1992 and won three consecutive terms from the 18th to the 20th in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province.

He served as a culture minister and chief presidential secretary under the Kim administration. During Moon’s presidency, he was director of the National Intelligence Service.


Choo Mi-ae


Choo Mi-ae, 65, whose lengthy career includes a stint as justice minister under the Moon administration and leading the Democratic Party, has been elected for a sixth term as lawmaker.

She narrowly defeated Lee Yong of the ruling People Power Party, who is known to be loyal to the incumbent President Yoon Suk Yeol, in the Hanam constituency of Gyeonggi Province. Choo secured 50.58 percent of the votes, while Lee received 49.41 percent.

A judge-turned-politician, Choo is known for her clashes with Yoon under the Moon administration. Choo, while serving as justice minister, had pushed to penalize Yoon, the prosecutor general at that time, for alleged ethical violations. Yoon was suspended from office for two months, a decision he later overturned through a legal appeal.

In her acceptance speech, Choo said, "I am thankful to the citizens of Hanam for sending me to the National Assembly to apply the brakes on the Yoon Suk Yeol administration and fulfill the mission of protecting the citizens."

Set to serve for a sixth term, Choo has the potential to become Speaker of the National Assembly. If so, she will be the first woman to assume the highest office in the legislature.


Chung Dong-young


At 70, former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young earned his return to the parliament, with an overwhelming victory in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province. He earned 82.08 percent of the vote. He will serve a fifth term.

“I will not be intoxicated by today’s victory, but will take on the responsibilities that lie ahead with greater seriousness than the joy of being elected,” Chung said.

In response to remarks about “the return of the old boy,” he said, “What the Democratic Party needs now is to build an alternative force centered on identity,” and added, “This will be my last service.”

The TV anchor-turned-politician began his political career in 1996 as a spokesperson for the left-wing party.

In 2007, he ran in the presidential election as the standard bearer of the liberal faction.