The Spirit of the Times: Discussing What is Here and Now
A cluster of happenstances led me to step into politics. In 1995, I was a student writing my doctoral dissertation. One day, I witnessed some peddlers’ stools violently thrown on the street by a group of workers hired by the government. I tried to help the peddlers pick up their products, but only realized how helpless I was. After a while, I happened to encounter a news article about the 15 th election of members of the National Assembly. It said that a candidate from the ruling party bragged that he would get the most votes in the country and the first opposition party didn’t even have a candidate. I was really upset about the candidate’s arrogance and the incompetence of the opposition party. That was the point where I decided to enter the race. My purpose was to tackle the arrogant candidate to prevent him from getting the most votes. After the grueling campaign, my wife and I were guessing how many votes we got. Our guesses were 20 or 200. However, incredibly, the turnout was more than 10,800 votes, and so our purpose to tackle the candidate came true. After the election, I was going to go back to school, but a popular TV talkshow invited me on their show. At the end of the interview, the host asked me whether I would run for the office again. At that moment, the nameless 10,800 voters appeared in my mind and I decided that I shouldn’t desert their wishes for different politics. That was when my real political life started and after a long, dark eight years of working I finally made it to becoming the only opposition party candidate elected in Busan.
The 17th, 18th, and 19th Representative of the Parliament
After getting first elected in 2004, I was reelected in 2008 and 2012 and 58% of the voters supported me in the 2012 election. What I concentrate on is communicating with the citizens in my district. I could help them build subway systems in Busan since my major is civil engineering and I always think from the stance of a poor person since my own family was very poor.
I believe politicians should try to read the minds of the people. I believe politics have to start from a plain place and that is the only way to touch people’s hearts.
Translation by Kang, Soo Jung
President of Salt&Light