The bi-election results are in, and it was a small massacre for the ruling Uri Party, which lost all six contested seats. Better yet, most of the seats had been Uri’s until the respective members left office or were removed by courts. The Flying Yangban is all over the story, here and here. Not only has the Uri lost its majority in the assembly, it appears to be in need of a funnel collar to prevent it from rending itself to pieces.
That is, if you consider that a bad thing.
The GNP deserves a hand for its substantial imporvement in message-control–and by control, I mean something on the order of radio silence–keeping its collective mouth shut and letting Uri lose this one all by itself.
I’d be interested in seeing some reliable polling data explaining the reasons for the loss. The most controversial issues in the run-up to the election were largely international: Tokdo (which, technically speaking, is referred to as a non-issue), Japanese textbooks, the growing rift in the alliance with the United States, and North Korea’s acceleration toward The Big Steel Wall. The poor state of the Korean economy, of course, could have been another important factor, but the Korean economy isn’t appreciably worse than it was during previous elections.
This probably does not suggest that South Koreans are ready to vote with compassion toward the people of North Korea, but polling data may yet confirm that Uri’s unilateralism toward its friends and appeasement of its enemies has finally worn thin with the voters. That would be good news, although it will likely come too late to preserve most of South Korea’s influence over U.S. North Korea policy in the crucial months to follow.