Shift in balance of power in South Korea after parliamentary elections

Lee Myung bak’s GNP saw its huge parliamentary majority melt away to 152 seats out of 300. Dictator Park Chung Hee’s daughter Park Geun hye had a hand in assuring Lee’s thin edged control of parliament.

In fact, the GNP underwent a name change: it is now the New Frontier Party. Some says the imminent launch of a North Korea’s Unha-3 rocket may have saved the day for the NFP, indicating that the electorate erred on the side of staying the course with Lee until the air cleared.

The GNP rocked by scandal and dirty tricks sought a woman as standard bearer. Park is simply walking on a road trod by Golda Meir, Indira and Sonia Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto.

Edged out in 2008 by Lee, she returns as head of a weaker conservative majority in parliament. As leader of the DUP, she owes her position to the failure of GNP’s male dominated rule and division, thereby confirming a rule of thumb that when the men cannot provide a solution, a woman decides.

What is clear: Park, unlike Lee, had gone to Pyongyang to talk to Kim Jong il. She may shift his hard line, take no prisoners policy towards the North.


The opposition Democratic United Party’s tripling itsrepresentation in parliament has argued in favour of renewing talks with Pyongyang. And Park, like it or not, will lean towards an an opening to North Korea.

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