Home Contact Us  
   

China - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5230, 1 February 2017
 
South Korea: Two Moons and the Future of a Nation
Rahul Raj
Assistant Professor, Department of Hotel & Tourism Management, Sejong University; and Adjunct Professor, Korean Studies, Graduate School of International Studies, Hanyang University, Seoul
 

Since the impeachment of South Korean President Park Guen-hye after her alleged involvement in one of the nation’s biggest corruption scandals, the major political parties have swung into action to build electoral momentum and begin campaigning for the next presidential election scheduled to take place later in 2017. The corruption scandal has gravely damaged the ruling conservative Saenuri Party, which saw a large number of its lawmakers siding with opposition party leaders in support of Park's impeachment. On the other hand, the opposition party, which has supported public demonstrations to oust the president, is buoyant at the chance to end its ten-year exile and catapult itself to power by capitalising on the national disenchantment with the ruling party. However, things are not as rosy as they seem, for the opposition party. Despite the fact that the ruling party is in disarray and struggling to recuperate from political scandal, the opposition party is beset with its own frictions, which include trying to decide on a presidential candidate who can unite the various opposition groups.
 
Among those jostling for the Blue House, two main populist presidential candidates have emerged as front-runners – Moon Jae-in, the former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, and Ban Ki-moon, the former South Korean foreign minister who has just ended a ten year stint as the UN Secretary-General. Both have relative strengths and weaknesses as well as loyal followers, which should make this election a highly competitive affair. In the balance hangs the future of a nation in the midst of its greatest political turmoil in decades. 
 
Moon Jae-in: A Quick Assessment
Since President Park’s impeachment by the South Korean Parliament, Moon Jae-in has shown strong popular appeal in election polling albeit he is not viewed as a particularly charismatic leader and there are doubts as to whether he can unite the public and political leaders behind his candidacy. Moon Jae-in has also been criticised for flip-flopping on major national security issues by his own party members as well as the conservative party. Last year, Moon joined the bandwagon in opposing the US-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, joining other opposition parties in order to capitalise on public protests against deploying the system in South Korea. Now, Moon has changed his stance, stating that a decision on THAAD should wait until the next government is in place.
 
Furthermore, he has been embroiled in a controversy with Song Min-song, a former foreign minister who, in his memoir, alleges that Moon backed a proposal to seek Pyongyang’s opinion before casting a vote on the 2007 UN resolution on North Korean human rights violations (South Korea had abstained during the voting).
 
Moon has also been accused of leading the only group aligned with former progressive President Roh Moon-hyun while ignoring people loyal to the country's former progressive president Kim Dae-jung. This was one of the reasons for the division in the party last year that saw those aligned with Kim Dae-jung leave the party and form the new People’s Party, which is not eager to support a Moon Jae-in candidacy. The People’s Party also badly defeated the Democratic Party in the Assembly elections last year in South Korea’s Cheolla region, a bastion of progressive voters. 
 
Ban Ki-moon: A Quick Assessment
Ban Ki-moon is a popular figure in South Korean politics who has returned to South Korea after finishing his term at the UN, signaling his intention to join the fray for the Blue House. However, despite his celebrity status he has his own drawbacks.
 
Primary among them is the fact that Ban lacks experience in South Korean domestic politics and does not have the backing of a political party. The joy of his homecoming and possible electoral prospects have also been marred by an allegation by Sisa Journal, a local business magazine, that he received a bribe while serving as South Korea’s foreign minister in 2005. 
 
A Ban spokesman has rejected the charge calling them as baseless, and has vowed legal action, arguing that the magazine cited several anonymous sources in a 2016 story it published about the affair. Furthermore, he has been rumored to be supported by President Park, who tried to project him as a presidential candidate from the Saenuri Party. Hence, Ban has suffered a drop in popularity since the Park scandal broke and is now trailing behind Moon Jae-in in national polling. The breakaway conservative Bareun Party has indicated a willingness to support Ban, which would give him a political platform and also allow him to distance himself from the scandal-ridden Park presidency. However, Ban has been keeping his cards close to his chest amid speculation that he may form a broader alliance of like-minded parties who are opposed to both Moon Jae-in and Park Guen-hye, thereby broadening his appeal in the electoral mathematics. 
 
Looking Ahead
The campaigning is yet to pick up real momentum, but political leaders are already drawing battle lines and attacking each other; and this is expected to intensify in the coming weeks. At the moment it appears likely that the two 'Moons' will become the leading candidates to seek election as South Korea’s next president, in the midst of a crisis that has shaken the faith of the Korean people in their political leadership and in the institution of the presidency.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
THAAD and South Korea-China-US Dynamics

German Model: Unsuitable for Korean Unification

Japan and South Korea: Ominous Politicisation of History Textbooks

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.