Korea's conservative party got a whole lot more conservative yesterday when the Grand National Party elected Choe Byung-yul as its party chairman. Look, I'm a man of the right, and OK, at least Choe isn't a friggin' stiff, but come on, guys, can't you do better than this? This is a guy with connections to Noh T'ae-woo, for Christ's sake. Choe is called "Choetler" by his friends for a reason, and while I'll be the first to admit that the GNP needs leadership, what it doesn't need is a fascist. Despite being the majority party, the GNP is in need of serious reform - there's a lot of "dead wood" from a much less pleasant period of Korean history weighing that party down, and if it actually wants to remain relevant in the long-term, it needs to reinvent itself as a "liberal" party in the classical sense. That or get on the neo-conservative bandwagon - anything but what they're doing. With Choe at the helm, the GNP should be able to take next year's general election - with Comrade Noh heading the MDP (for now, anyway), the GNP could run a monkey in every legislative district in Korea and still probably take a majority of seats. Still, look forward to some nasty infighting, and a number of younger, reform-minded GNP assemblymen are looking to jump ship to join with Noh if the President is successful is establishing his own party.
BTW, in case you're wondering, the man I feel most sorry for is Lee Hoi-ch'ang. Not that I thought he'd make a great president, but still, with the nation falling apart around him, he's the one who's got to wake up in the morning and ask himself, "I lost to Noh?" Noh's just an incompetent boob; Lee lost to an incompetent boob, and I can't imagine it's easy to live with that shame.
Korean Politics Fun Fact: Both President Noh and Chaiman Choe Byung-yul come from South Kyungsang Province (around Pusan). The Dong-A Ilbo ran a political cartoon on this that gave even the Marmot a chuckle.