Via Korea Times, 24 March:
The major parties unveiled the lineups of their proportional representation candidates, Monday. On its list, the governing Grand National Party (GNP) placed activists, civic group leaders and labor unionists, who have more chance of becoming lawmakers, in an effort to attract working-class voters.
The main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), meanwhile, sought to give an economy-savvy image by selecting female financier Lee Sung-nam as its No. 1 proportional representation candidate. Lee served as a member of the Bank of Korea’s Monetary Policy Committee.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Song Min-soon ranked fourth in the liberal party’s list of 54 candidates to be elected under the proportional representation system.
Of the total 299 lawmakers, 54 will be picked under the proportional representation system in the April 9 National Assembly elections. The remaining 245 legislators will be elected through direct voting.
Please, nominal or district, not direct. All are directly elected.1
Back to the story, with further emphasis on parties’ attention to the personal vote of candidates on closed party lists:
“We recruited experts and notable figures. But I feel sorry that we could not invite so many great people because of the limited number of seats,” UNP Co-Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu told reporters.
The important consideration here is how many safe lists ranks the party has to go around. I assume “UNP” is the same as “UDP” as the name for the major opposition party is given in most sources as United New Democratic Party or UNDP. That party won 26% of the vote in December’s presidential election. If it could repeat that vote for its party lists, that would be about 14 seats (not counting any it might win in the plurality tier). Given the Co-Chairman’s remarks, the party must have a lot of “great people” to choose from.
Now on the importance of the list-head:
Political parties usually present their visions and policies through the selection of their No. 1 proportional representation candidate.
And below the top rank (for the UNDP):
Chief Director Park Eun-soo of the Korea Employment Promotion Agency for the Disabled was chosen as the No. 2 candidate.
Other candidates include Choi Moon-soon, the former CEO of the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation; former Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Park Hong-soo; and Professor Kim Geun-sik of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
A 13 March Korea Times article remarked about the denial of renomination to many incumbents:
Major parties have made massive cuts of incumbent lawmakers in the selection of candidates to run in the National Assembly elections on April 9 to solicit more support.2
The governing Grand National Party (GNP) announced Thursday the elimination of 43.5 percent of incumbent lawmakers in its selection of candidates in the Gyeongsang provinces, the party’s stronghold. As a result, 25 legislators lost in the internal competition.
In a similar move, the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has replaced 30 percent of its legislators with new faces in a bid to regain voter confidence in the elections.
Of the 25 incumbents who lost in the GNP nominations, 12 are said to be close aides of President Lee Myung-bak, while 10 are pro-Park Geun-hye. Park lost in last year’s GNP primaries by a razor-thin margin to Lee who was elected president on the party’s ticket.
South Korea uses a mixed-member majoritarian system, with separate votes for nominal-tier candidate (in 245 single-seat districts decided by plurality) and party list (for the 54 national seats). The election is 9 April.