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Friday, April 02, 2004

(Social categories) Kwôn Yông-gil of DLP among the ordinary people

Since the Korean media has given a lot of attention to the Democratic Labor Party (DLP, Minju nodongdang), I cannot stay idle. Went to take a look at Digital Mal, which being a leftist monthly does a lot of favorable stories on DLP. Here they have been following the head of DLP, Kwôn Yông-gil (or Kwon Young-gil, not so sure), who has been going around meeting people in Changwon, Southern Gyeongsang, where there's a lot of industry and potential constituency for the DLP.

The marketplace people are used to seeing him, and they greet him and shake hands eagerly, tells the story. There must be no politician that would not visit a marketplace; and the customary question to a shop or stall keeper goes "how's the business" (장사 잘 됩니까), and the expected answer "not good" (안 됩니다).

Kwôn's suit is not that sômin-like,
but the food and the eatery are.
Picture linked from Digital Mal
Then there are the "ordinary people's apartments" (or should the sômin ap'at'û in this case be translated as "poor people's apartments), that the entourage takes a look at. "Very few people to be met there, since in so many families both parents go to work (matpôri). There are no "working class neighborhoods" in Korea, but "sômin neighborhoods instead; still the DLP aims to represent both workers and the "ordinary people", alongside with farmers of course. In the DLP terminology, sômin represents mostly small shopkeepers, and nodongja means of course mostly industrial workers. Other parties don't use "worker" that much, and cover the whole stratum "below" middle class with sômin.

Kwôn's suit is not that sômin-like,
but the food and the eatery are.
Picture linked from Digital Mal

Update. Both Chosun Ilbo and Hankyoreh have pieces on Kwon of DLP on their front homepages on April 3, the former with a longer article on why Kwon is popular and leading the polls in Changwon, and the latter with a shorter note on Kwon's news conference in Seoul. Chosun says that Kwon has been able to present himself for the last four years as a worthwhile candidate and an able politician to represent the constituency, not showing too much red color neither being too far on the left. He's been active both in Seoul and in Changwon, and has been able to recruit middle-class supporters for his campaign.
Chosun's view is that people's expectations on "progressive politics" (chinbo chôngch'i) is not that big, as the other DLP candidates in Gyeongnam are not getting support figures much above the party's 7%.

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