On the seventh local elections that took place on June 13, the Liberty Korea Party lost greatly to the Democratic Party of Korea, only able to win three out of the 17 metropolitan councils of the nation. After undergoing such a crushing defeat, Hong Jun Pyo, the former Liberty Korea Party representative, stepped down, announcing to take full responsibility for the party’s breakdown. Since then, the party has been jeopardized once again and drawing the public’s attention on whether the party is going to survive or not.
On July 16, the Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) of the Liberty Korea Party has been organized with Professor Kim Byung-joon elected unanimously as its head. Setting innovation as the main slogan of the party, Kim and the other members attempted to be reborn as a new conservative party. Kim, who has served as a Policy Chief during former president Roh Moo-hyun’s term in office, was a surprise for the Korean citizens as Roh is considered to be one of the most liberal presidents in Korean history. Many experts interpreted such act as the party’s strong will to change, asserting that Kim and his EPC are the last hope for the party’s resuscitation.
Despite those who are shouting for the collapse of the Liberty Korea Party, the complete loss of one of the most powerful conservative parties is not ideal for its supporters and the other citizens. Under the basic principles of democracy, the political parties need one another to keep each other in check in terms of power. If a certain party dominates over the people’s support, it increases the risk of abuse of power and dictatorship. Furthermore, discussions and debates lose significance, preventing the government from making the best choices.
However, without major changes in its system and structure, the Liberty Korea Party will not be able to avoid demolishment. One of the main problems is that it lost a significant amount of support from people in their 20s to 40s due to the party members’ anachronistic, misogynistic and queerphobic speeches. According to Realmeter, one of Korea’s biggest public opinion poll companies, supporters in their 20s to 40s for the Liberty Korea Party were each close to 10 percent. Such is half the support the party gained from people in their 50s and 60s.
Unfortunately, their attitude did not seem to have changed as Kim Sung-tae, the current representative, has once again become the center of the controversy with his queer-phobic comments towards Lim Tae-hoon, the head of the Center for Military Human Rights. Stating that a person who is confused with his own sexual identity should not be the head of such a center, Kim made highly personal attacks.
To regain the advocates who have turned their backs, the Liberty Korea Party members must always be careful when addressing sensitive topics and reflect on their on-going ignorance on human rights issues. They must acknowledge that the world is changing and respect the younger generation in order to do away with their original kkondae image. The party members should demonstrate that they are somewhat different now through their words and actions.
Furthermore, the party must stop their inner conflict between pro-Park Geun-hye and anti-Park. They must unite into one under Kim Byung-Jun and concentrate on recovering the depressed support rate. Currently, the members are overly occupied with the unnecessary hostility between different factions and should instead prioritize the survival of the party over anything else.
The demolishment of the Korean conservative party should not be encouraged. However, this does not mean that the party should carry on with its current actions. They must be ready to employ modifications and listen to citizens. Without such determination, the party will not be able to endure, something probably none of its members would want.