The local elections considered a referendum on President Park Geunhye and her administration’s handling of the recent ferry disaster showed roughly an equal number of wins for the main parties. Of the 17 key positions, the ruling Saenuri party won eight seats, while the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) won nine.
The incumbent Seoul Mayor Park Wonsoon of the NPAD easily retained his position, while You Jeongbok and Nam Gyeongpil of the Saenuri gained victory in a neck-and-neck race in Incheon and Gyeonggi, respectively. In Busan, one of strongholds of Saenuri, candidate Seo Byungsoo won against a liberal independent Oh Keodon by a close margin of 1.3%.
In Daegu, President Park’s home ground, Kwon Youngjin of Saenuri won election with 56% of the vote against his rival Kim Bugyeom who earned 40%, implying people’s desire for reform.
Meanwhile, the NPAD candidates Yun Janghyun, Kwon Seontaek, and Lee Chunhee defeated their rivals in Gawngju, Daejeon, and Sejong, respectively. In Kangwon, the incumbent Choi Moonsoon was re-elected after a close race, whereas in North Chungcheong, the incumbent Lee Sijong of the NPAD won re-election against his rival. However, in Ulsan, one of the opposition party’s strongholds, the governing party’s Kim Kihyun won a landslide victory against his rival Choi Seungsu with whom he has been friends for 50 years.
The NPAD candidates Song Hajin and Lee Nakyeon had a sweeping victory in South and North Jeolla, respectively, while the Saenuri candidates Kim Gwanyong and Hong Junpyo were elected in North and South Gyeongsang, respectively. In South Chungcheong, the incumbent Ahn Heejeong of the NPAD, one of the most prominent presidential aspirants, was successfully re-elected.
In Jeju, polls suggested that Won Heeryong, the Jeju-born promising lawmaker of the ruling party, would claim victory depending on the 20% undecided voters. As a majority of the swing vote went to Won, he received 60% of the vote, while Shin Koobeom of the NPAD had 34.5%.