What They Said is a regular series on the quotes Korea is talking about.
On October 10, 2021, Lee Jae-myung officially became the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate with 50.29% of the vote.
In his acceptance speech, Lee said:
… “The Republic of Korea shall be a democratic republic.” “The sovereignty of the Republic of Korea shall reside in the people, and all state authority shall emanate from the people.”
That is right. As stated in Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, the owners of this country are the people. All state power must be used for the sake of the people. The reason for the existence of politics should be a better life for the people. Respected citizens of South Korea, fellow members of the Democratic Party of Korea! Greetings, I am Lee Jae-myung, candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea in the 20th Republic of Korea Presidential Election.
Today we chose change. I didn’t receive a proper middle and high school education. Because I was too young, I couldn’t even get a job in a factory under my own name. I was a handicapped boy worker, whose arm was bent by the machinery, who lost more than half of his sense of smell due to strong chemicals. I had no political halo, no supporting organization, no school connections, no regional connections. I am an outsider on the outskirts of power who has never been a National Assembly member.
Yet to me, Lee Jae-myung, you have entrusted the important duty of being the presidential candidate of the ruling party. “Stop the old-fashioned politics and political bickering that is far from the lives of the people”, “reform the politics of Yeouido, the feast for the vested interests”, and “Save the economy, take care of the people’s livelihoods, and change their lives” are all urgent and solemn commands given by the people.
Today we chose reform. You have entrusted the task of accomplishing people’s livelihood reform, social reform, and national reform to me, Lee Jae-myung, who has fought and won against all kinds of vested interests, including the prosecution, the police, the National Intelligence Service, and corrupt political forces for over 30 years. “Abolish injustice, inequality, and corruption, and establish fairness and justice.” “Get rid of unearned income and establish a country where working people are respected and prosperous.” These are clear and stern commands from the people. I will solemnly carry out the people’s orders. I will surely accomplish the “change and reform” demanded by the people. …
— Lee Jae-myung, presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, October 10, 2021.
Moments after the results were announced and Lee Jae-myung was declared the presidential candidate, President Moon Jae-in also issued a congratulatory message through the Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson:
As a member of the Democratic Party of Korea, I congratulate Governor Lee Jae-myung for being named the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.
I am glad that the primaries were conducted smoothly.
I extend my condolences and encouragement to the other candidates who competed in good faith. I believe that you will continue to work together for the future development of the Republic of Korea.
— Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, October 10, 2021.
However, after all this, the Lee Nak-yon campaign decided to challenge the decision. On October 11, his campaign committee made the following announcement:
The incorrect handling of invalid votes must be corrected.
Candidate Lee Jae-myung received 49.32% of the votes cast, and a runoff must therefore be held [between Lee Jae-myung and the runner-up Lee Nak-yon].
We must abide by the party’s constitution and regulations. There has been an error in the leadership’s judgment regarding the Special Party Regulations. If the party’s constitution and regulations are misread and applied in an incorrect manner, the legitimacy of the election may be fundamentally shaken. The votes of party members and voters could be reversed.
We believe the leadership’s lax judgment brought about this problem. When an objection is raised, the party should seriously review the allegation and its grounds and follow the procedures in accordance with the principles, such as the authoritative interpretation by the party committee. We believe there was a bias or misjudgment that there would not be a problem because of the big difference in votes. But even at this late stage, everyone must respond accurately and fairly. We must follow the party constitution and regulations.
The announcement of the results of the primaries by the leadership of the Democratic Party’s Election Commission on October 10 clearly violates the party constitution and regulations. The legal text should not be interpreted as broadly as an ordinary text. It should be applied literally. The definition, scope, target, and effect of a word must be applied thoroughly and precisely.
Article 59 Paragraph 1 of the Special Party Regulations states that if a candidate resigns during the primary election process, the vote for the candidate will be null and void. A vote for a candidate who has resigned is invalid, and a vote for a candidate who has not resigned is a valid vote. September 13 was the day Chung Sye-kyun withdrew his candidacy, and he had received 23,731 votes before he withdrew. September 27 was the day Kim Doo-kwan withdrew his candidacy, and he had received 4,411 votes before he withdrew. These were valid votes, as they were for candidates before they resigned. The 257 votes cast for Candidate Kin Doo-kwan after September 27 are invalid because they were for a candidate who had withdrawn his candidacy.
Article 60 Paragraph 1 of the Special Party Regulations stipulates that the Election Commission shall simply add up the ballot counts announced in the primary election and confirm the candidate who has obtained a majority of the valid votes as the elected winner. The 23,731 votes cast for Candidate Chung Sye-kyun before September 13 and the 4,411 votes cast for Candidate Kim Doo-kwan before September 27 had already been announced as valid votes when the results were announced by the Election Commission in the primary circuit. Since then, there has been no separate announcement or resolution that those votes were invalid. Naturally, it would have been in accordance with the party constitution and regulations to simply add up and include those valid votes when the final result was announced on October 10.
As soon as election results are announced by the chairman of the Election Commission, the votes are confirmed as valid and therefore they cannot retroactively become invalid after those candidates withdraw their candidacy. In this primary election, the invalid votes due to the resignation of candidates are not the 28,399 votes announced by the Election Commission, but the 257 votes for Kim Doo-kwan that were obtained from Jeju and Busan, Ulsan, and Gyeongsangnam-do after he had resigned his candidacy. Therefore, the announcement of the Election Commission on October 10 is a clear violation of the party constitution and regulations.
If the party constitution and regulations are properly applied, the percentage of votes for Candidate Lee Jae-myung is 49.32%, which is less than a majority. Therefore, a runoff must be held based on the party’s constitution and regulations.
The party leadership must immediately convene the Supreme Council and proceed with correcting this violation of the party constitution and regulations as soon as possible.
We must put aside our biases and prejudices and make fair and transparent decisions. We earnestly urge you with the loyalty of all party members, supporters, and lawmakers who wish for one single presidential candidate from the party.
— Hong Young-pyo, co-head of the Lee Nak-yon’s Election Campaign Committee, October 11, 2021.
The Democratic Party leader, Song Young-gil, has indicated, however, that the party does not intend to accept the objection from the Lee Nak-yon campaign.
An objection to the voting results was also made in the People Power Party’s preliminary primaries, with Hwang Kyo-ahn claiming there to be election fraud when he was not among the top four candidates. The People Power Party’s Fair Election Promotion Committee announced on October 11 that the claim was unfounded and warned that Hwang’s claims without proper evidence could be construed as an “act of harming the party”.