Post-340: Against the “Sleeping National Assembly” [Korea Election 2016]

“Political commentators have called the current 19th National Assembly [of the Republic of Korea] the worst parliament ever, extremely unproductive and dysfunctional. I will bet my bottom dollar that the 20th Assembly is likely to be even worse.”
Choi Sung-jin, Korea Times editorial, March 30, 2016


Political banner of the right-wing Saenuri Party [새누리당] at Yeongdeungpo Station [영등포역], Seoul, late March 2016

The governing Saenuri party [새누리당] banner I wrote about in post-338 (“The Liars are at it Again”) was replaced, at some point, by the above.

This is the Korean original on the new banner and my translation:

뛰어라 국회야!

잠자는 국회에서 일하는 국회로

[Saenuri Party]
Get Moving, National Assembly!
Turn our Sleeping National Assembly into a Working One!

This new banner from Saenuri, which I have seen in many other places, seems to be mocking the National Assembly itself, which may seem odd given that Saenuri is the governing party and  controls a majority of the seats (but not a supermajority). This seems to me to be a case, then, of dogwhistling to Saenuri supporters, roughly as follows: “Look, guys, we all know WHO is to blame for the ongoing poor performance of the National Assembly: The opposition. The opposition is to blame. They’re causing problems and making it into a do-nothing body. The solution? You and I both know the solution. Run ’em out. Run the opposition out.”
The Korea Times senior editorialist Choi Sung-jin goes on to say:

“The Saenuri Party is even turning the upcoming election into a ‘judgment of the opposition,’ saying that the MPK [더불어민주당] [the left-wing main opposition party, usually called the Democratic Party] did not cooperate in railroading President Park’s controversial bills into laws. In what sort of democratic country does the chief executive regard the legislative branch as little more than a rubberstamp of the administration, and the governing party calls for voters to punish the political opposition for what it is supposed to do — opposing (a one-sided operation of state affairs by the government and governing party)?”

The Korea Times editorialists are left-leaning, in my experience, and are not likely to ever praise the Saenuri Party. Choi also, though, criticizes the main left-wing party, the Democratic Party (he calls it the MPK [in Korean: 더불어민주당]). This party, in an odd move, has apparently handed over leadership of the party to a right-wing figure. Choi comments:

“The MPK may think its shift to a middle-of-the-road platform will help gather votes, but they could end up ‘losing rabbits at home while running after hares in the mountains’.”

This is a translation of the following Korean proverb: “산토끼를 잡으려다가 집토끼를 놓친다.” I’d never heard it before but I like it.

Finally, Choi also criticizes the attempt by opposition figure Dr. Ahn Cheol-Soo [안철수] to form a new party called the People’s Party [국민의당] after years of shaky relations with the Democratic Party. As I have looked on over the past few years, it has seemed to me that the Democratic Party tried to do something to Dr. Ahn that in Korean is called 왕따시키다, or a group closing ranks against a person, isolating that person with the goal of ruining him/her in the given social dynamic. I have observed this behavior on the job in Korea before, and have even been on the wrong side of it myself, and often hear tales of such from people working in Korean companies. It’s powerful: It enforces group consensus and suppresses challengers while uniting those on the “group” side (“We are all better than this idiot”).

Editorialist Choi predicts Ahn’s new party will undermine the opposition vote. Ahn himself says his supporters would not support the Democratic Party, anyway, and that he represents a new force in politics.

Choi predicts the Saenuri Party will increase its majority and is troubled by this. He raises the specter of Korea as a defacto one-party state with a Saenuri supermajority of two-thirds of the seats.

Postscript / Yeongdeungpo Political Banner Update
Just like its predecessor banner (“The Liars are At It Again”), the banner translated and discussed in this post (“Get Moving, National Assembly!”), too, has disappeared at the busy intersection in front of Yeongdeungpo Station. A few other of the banners seen in post-338 are also gone — Some replaced, some not.

I can only speculate about whether people are maliciously snatching down their opponents’ banners. If so, it’s not surprising, since some of the banners were politically incendiary, including the “Stop the U.S.-R.O.K. Joint Exercises” one, which made the same demand as the North Korean state media. Here is that banner, as it was, until it was removed:


“No war!”
Political banner calling for the an end to the U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises and a peace treaty with North Korea.


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