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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

19th Presidential Election: Five-corner match for the Presidential Seat after Park Geun-hye's Impeachment

The 19th South Korean Presidential Election (Hangul/Hanja/Romanization: 제19대 대한민국 대통령 선거/第19代大韓民國大統領選擧/Je-sipgu-dae Daehan-MinGuk Daetongnyeong SeonGeo) is scheduled to be held on May 9th 2017, after the impeachment and dismissal of incumbent Park Geun-hye. Under present law, the election will be decided in a single round on a first-past-the-post basis.

The election was originally scheduled to be held on or before December 20th 2017, but was moved after the decision of the Constitutional Court to uphold the parliament's impeachment of Park Geun-hye. In the meantime, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn succeeded Park as acting president and will finish out the remainder of the 18th term. Acting president Hwang has indicated he will not run for a term in his own right.

Park Geun-hye of the conservative Saenuri Party (Liberty Korea Party) won the previous presidential election in 2012, succeeding Lee Myung-bak of the same party. However, the Saenuri Party lost the parliamentary election in April 2016, with opposition parties including liberal Democratic Party of Korea and People's Party winning a majority in the National Assembly. Commentators described the result as leaving Park a lame duck president, as she may not run again under South Korea's one-term presidency rule. and the Nikkei Asian Review noted that, in the wake of her "crushing defeat", "rivals sense a prime opportunity to complete the power shift in the December 2017 presidential vote". The Korea Times stated: "The drama of deals and power struggles for next year's election has already begun."

On December 9th 2016 Park was impeached by parliament by a vote of 234 for and 56 against (with seven invalid votes and two abstentions). The Constitutional Court reviewed the motion of impeachment. Park was formally removed from office, with a unanimous ruling by all eight of the Constitutional Court's justices supporting her impeachment, on March 10th 2017. A presidential election must now be held within 60 days. In the interim, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn succeeds Park and will see out the remainder of the 18th term.

The Contenders

Hong Jun-pyo (홍준표/洪準杓) - Liberty Korea Party (LibKor)
  • Member of Namyang Hong Clan (남양 홍씨/南陽洪氏), originated from Namyang-eup, Hwaseong City, Gyeonggi Province
  • Born on December 5th 1954 at Namji-eup, Changnyeong County, Southern Gyeongsang Province
  • Alma mater of Korea University in Public Administration Studies
  • Former Assemblyman of Seoul Songpa-gap (Songpa-gu 1st Electoral District; 1996-1999)
  • Former Assemblyman of Seoul Dongdaemun-eul (Dongdaemun-gu 2nd Electoral District; 2001-2012)
  • Current Governor of Southern Gyeongsang Province
  • Harsher Critic of disgraced President Park Geun-hye

Yoo Seung-min (유승민/劉承旼) - Bareun Party
  • Member of Gangneung Yoo Clan (강릉 유씨/江陵劉氏), originated from Gangneung City, Gangwon Province
  • Born on January 7th 1958 at Daebong-dong, Daegu Jung-gu
  • Son of Daegu Court Chief Attorney and Former Assemblyman of Daegu Jung-gu, the Late Yoo Soo-ho 
  • Alma mater of Seoul National University and University of Wisconsin-Madison in Economics
  • Works as an economist at the Korea Development Institute (KDI/한국개발연구원/韓國開發硏究院/Hankook Gaebal YeonGuwon)
  • Assemblyman of Daegu Donggu-eul (Daegu Dong-gu 2nd Electoral District; since 2005)
  • Estranged Chief of Staff of disgraced President Park Geun-hye

Dr. Charles Ahn Cheol-soo (안철수/安哲秀; MD, PhD) - People's Party
  • Member of Sunheung Ahn Clan (순흥 안씨/順興安氏), originated from Sunheung-myeon, Yeongju City, Northern Gyeongsang Province
  • Born on February 26th 1962 at Naeil-dong, Miryang City, Southern Gyeongsang Province
  • Founder of antivirus company, AhnLab
  • Founder of New Politics Alliance for Democracy and People's Party 
  • Alma mater of Seoul National University in Physiology and University of Pennsylvania in Engineering and Economics
  • Former Dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University until 2012
  • Assemblyman of Seoul Nowon-byeong (Nowon-gu 3rd Electoral District; since 2013)

Timothy Moon Jae-in (문재인/文在寅; LL.B) - Democratic Party of Korea (DemKor)
  • Member of Nampyeong Moon Clan (남평 문씨/南平文氏), originated from Nampyeong-eup, Naju City, Southern Jeolla Province
  • His family originated from Hamheung, Southern Hamgyeong Province, DPRK but fled to Geoje during Korean War (1950-1953)
  • Born on January 24th 1953 at Geoje-myeon, Geoje City, Southern Gyeongsang Province
  • Devout Roman Catholic, received the baptismal name of Timotheus a.k.a Timothy
  • Co-founder of Hankyoreh, progressive-leaned Korean Newspaper
  • Alma mater of Kyung Hee University in Law
  • Former Chief of Staff of the Late President Roh Moo-hyun
  • Former Assemblyman of Busan Sasang-gu (2012-2016)
  • Competed for the second time after his defeat against ex-President Park Geun-hye in the 18th Presidential Election, 2012

Maria Sim Sang-jung (심상정/沈相奵) - Justice Party
  • Member of Cheongsong Shim Clan (청송 심씨/靑松沈氏), originated from Cheongsong County, Northern Gyeongsang Province
  • Born on February 20th 1959 at Gwangtan-myeon, Paju City, Gyeonggi Province
  • Lapsed Roman Catholic, though she bestowed her baptismal name Maria
  • Alma mater of Seoul National University in Social Education Studies
  • Labour Activist at Daewoo Apparel in 1980s to 1990s
  • Assemblywoman of Goyang-gap (Goyang City 1st Electoral District)