In some cities in Gyeonggi Province designated to prioritize female candidates in the nomination process for June 4 local elections, male incumbents left their party to run for re-election either as an independent or a nominee of the opposing party.
In Icheon, for instance, the Saenuri Party nominated Kim Kyunghee, a 59-year old former deputy mayor, instead of Choi Byungdon, the 65-year old incumbent, who joined the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) to stand for re-election. Choi failed to receive nomination during the first round, while his nomination application was denied during the second round. Nevertheless, the NPAD picked him for his administrative skills.
To make matters worse, the election campaign was a whole mess with volunteers from both sides accused of launching an attack on each other.
In Gwacheon, as the Saenuri party chose Shin Gyeyong, the 50-year old former female director of a bureau, Lee Kyungsu, the 55-year old municipal assemblyman left the Saenuri Party to run as an independent. Lee said "To put up someone who has no connection to Saenuri as a candidate equates to fooling citizens."
Since the start of the election campaign, there have been malicious rumors about Shin that she is a member of Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony. Shin responded by charging the person who posted the rumor on the Internet for violation of the election law.
The NPAD was no different. In Yongin which is a major city in the Seoul capital area, the Yongin Sexual Violence Relief Center Chief Yang Haekyung, aged 60, was chosen over the incumbent Kim Hakgyu, aged 66, as the nominated candidate for the office of mayor. Kim left the NPAD and declared his candidacy as an independent. He publicly criticized his party and said "The strategy used to put up a particular person as a candidate was somewhat narrow-minded."
In other electoral districts, there were no women candidates at all because they failed to register before the deadline: Seoul Dongdaemun Districts A and B, Northern Daegu District B, Incheon Nam District A, Incheon Namdong District B, Incheon Bupyeong District B, Gyeonggi Yangpyeong, Gapyeong, and Yeoju City, North Chungcheong Cheongju Sangdang District, North Chuncheong Cheongju Hongdeok District B, and South Chungcheong Namboryeong Seocheon District. On May 18, the NPAD National Women Committee criticized political parties for making ill use of the current scheme which imposes obligations on parties, such as prioritizing recruitment of female candidates.
In Jeju, the NPAD women candidates like Lee Eunja (Jocheon Eup) and Jeon Haneul (Daejeong Eup) withdrew their candidacy on May 19 and 21, respectively, saying they would provide support for independent male nominees. The Saenuri party denunciated the opposition party and pointed out that women candidates fell prey to the election system and that their candidacy was not fully protected.
According to the NPAD Women’s Bureau Assistant Administrator Kim Kyungmi, parties are only interested in having been recognized that they nominated women. They are not much concerned whether their women candidates are fully committed and prepared to run for and win in the election. The National Election Commission said that legislative measures should be introduced to obligate candidates to register before the deadline.
One female candidate said "Some male counter-parties make inflammatory remarks that their right to be nominated is being undermined. Another issue is whether new female politicians can compete against male politicians who has been standing on firm ground."
A chief aide to the Saenuri Party’s female politician, who played a critical role during the 2012 presidential election campaigns, commented "In the game of politics, women candidates do more harm than good. That is especially true tor the Saenuri Party which mainly targets the conservatives and the elderly who doubt that women can outcompete their male rivals. To sum up, women experience difficulties during and after the nomination process."