The South Koreans are solidly behind their president’s peace effort. From Stu Smallwood at antiwar.com:
When South Koreans went to the polls yesterday they registered their unambiguous backing for President Moon’s Democratic Party and the peace process that is a signature policy of his administration. In doing so, they also dealt a devastating blow to the country’s main faction hostile to North Korean diplomacy.
Here’s how one South Korean outlet summed up the results: “In what was considered an opportunity to measure the public support of the Moon Jae-in administration one year into its term, the Democratic Party achieved an enormous victory in the local elections of June 13th, providing even more political flexibility for Moon’s government…. At the same time, the Liberty Korea Party suffered a historically crushing rout that has seen its power wither, leaving it solely with its [traditional strongholds]…as the party appears on the verge of being swept away in a maelstrom of internal discord with members looking for someone to blame for this defeat.” (Translation of original Korean by author.)
The Democrats took 14 of the 17 metropolitan districts voted on today, including the city of Busan and Southeast Gyeongsang Province – both former mainstays of the Liberty Party. They also captured 11 of the 12 seats in the National Assembly bi-elections held the same day. The assembly now houses 130 Democratic representatives to 113 from Liberty with the full election coming in 2020.
While these results were largely expected, they represent a stunning fall from grace for the once-dominant political force in South Korea. Harsh as the outcome was for the Liberty Party as a whole, it may be the final death knell for its leader Hong Jun-pyo, who had declared his intention to retire from politics if Liberty failed to take at least six of the major jurisdictions voted on today.
If this truly is the end for the beleaguered conservative leader, it’s to his credit that he went down swinging during a final election rally in Seoul on the eve of the vote, deriding the Singapore summit for failing to deliver any concrete results. It was the kind of rhetoric that – coming from an ostensibly influential South Korean politician – should be music to the ears of the anti-peace American media establishment. But his time is up, and South Koreans have shown that politicians who oppose North Korean diplomacy don’t hold sway in the country any longer.