Political reform will have to be made in such a way that it can be representative of the people’s will, said Rep. Kim Han-jung, who serves as a member of the Special Committee on Political Reform of the National Assembly.
Rep. Kim, also a member of the National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, said, “An election system is required to reflect people’s will in election outcomes, and the committee is now discussing diverse options, including the introduction of ‘interworking proportion representation system’ and a middle-sized constituency system.”
Rep. Kim was an ardent student activist when he was attending Seoul National University. He served as a secretary to opposition leader Kim Dae-jung and held such positions as senior advisor of ex-President Kim Dae-jung. The following are excerpts of an interview in which he spoke of his political tenets, legislative and constituency activities.
Question: Would you tell our readers about your activities as a member of the Special Committee on Political Reform of the 20th National Assembly?
Answer: The President Moon Jae-in government has been inaugurated with people’s “candlelight desire” to make a country worthy of being called a “country” and politics worthy of being called “politics.” The election system needs to be overhauled to reform politics.
The Special Committee on Political Reform of the National Assembly to which I belong is a committee charged with the overall reform of political systems, including the ones on elections for 2018 and lowering of voting age. I will continue to conduct legislation activities to reform election systems so that people’s will can be reflected in a faithful and fair manner.
Q: Would you comment on your views on reforming Korean politics?
A: A recent public opinion survey showed that the eliminating of malpractices and corruption and political reform topped the tasks the President Moon Jae-in government will have to address in 2018. The reason is that politics has failed to reflect people’s will and minds.
Political reform will have to be made the way people’s will can be realized through state affairs. An election system is required to reflect people’s will in election outcomes. The committee is now discussing diverse options, including the introduction of “interworking proportion representation system” and a middle-sized constituency system.
The revision of the Constitution is a prerequisite for political reform. Reflecting public views on the need of dispersing authority concentrated on a president, the National Assembly is working on a possible amendment of the Constitution.
One of the scenarios under discussion is to change the presidential system to allow two four-year terms. Politics should be overhauled to fully serve voters through the reform of election systems by the Special Committee on Political Reform of the National Assembly and the revision of the Constitution by the special committee on the Constitutional amendment.
Q: Would you recommend steps to boost the inbound foreign tourist market?
A: Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 and Paralympics will serve as a turning point to boost inbound and domestic tourism and the industry. I, a member of the National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, will provide full support to ensure the nation’s successful hosting of the upcoming Winter Olympics.
The President Moon government also will implement the diversifying of inbound tourists, the nurturing of value-added tourism industries like the supporting of wellness tourism clusters as the developing of “glocal tourist spots” catering to foreign tourists as part of its state agendas to boost inbound foreign tourism industry.
As exports had been emphasized in Korea during the 1970s, a focus on attracting inbound foreign tourists will be like “targeting one side of the coin” of the tourism industry. I’ll devote myself to reinvigorating Koreans’ domestic tourism by introducing such systems as the supporting of workers’ leaves and the extending of alternative holidays.
Q: Would you comment on your views of the nation’s publicizing Korean culture abroad?
A: One of the most culturally flourished periods of Korean history was under the former President Kim Dae-joong’s “people’s government.” The credit was owed to the then government’s policy principles of providing support, but not interfering. Cultural circles had been undermined by the former President Park Geun-hye government’s censorship. If the circle is guaranteed with independence and autonomy, contents based on a variety of materials will be created, and it will naturally lead to the creation of diverse markets. The K-Pop idol group BTS, who has received raves abroad and the renowned Korean hallyu superstar Psy are homegrown artists, who originally not targeted the overseas market.
The government is endeavoring to boost the spread of hallyu and international cultural exchanges through the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS). I, a member of the National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, strive to make efforts to provide budgetary and policy support so that the government and the private sector’s efforts to publicize Korean culture abroad can have synergetic effects.
Q: Would you touch upon your political career and your motivation to enter the political field?
A: As I entered Seoul National University’s Economic Department, I dreamed of becoming an economist, but I became a student activist to resist against the dictatorship. I entered the opposition Democratic Party at the age of 25, and I was recruited to be one of opposition party leader Kim Jae-jung’s secretaries. I’ve believed that government changes through elections can lead to legitimate realization of democracy and the development of democracy. As I served as a senior advisor of former President Kim Dae-jung, I had experiences on party politics and national policies.
Following the death of former President Kim Dae-jung, I was given opportunities to experience worlds of politics and people’s lives as I was involved in Seoul mayoral, parliamentary and presidential elections. I unsuccessfully ran for an election of Namyangju mayor in 2014. I, not bowing to frustration, began to take to the street to meet constituency residents shortly after the election failure, and two years later, I was elected to a lawmaker at the Namyangju B-electoral district of the 20th National Assembly on the ticket of the Democratic Party of Korea.
Q: Would you elaborate on your parliamentary activities you plan or have in your mind?
A: As I served as a member of the National Assembly Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries Committee, I spearheaded the revision of the Act on the Protection of Animals, calling for stringent punishment of animal abuses and the introducing of a licensing system on the animal production industry, which was approved by the parliament in February 2017. Even though I’m now sitting on the National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, I will continue to carry out legislative activities and development policies to protect animals.
I, as a member of the National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, have in my mind legislation on preschooler education, primary and secondary school education support, the improving of university entry, cultural promotion, and the boosting of the tourism industry.
I continue to perform legislation activities to promote the development of my constituency district. I’ve played a leading role in submitting a measure to revise the National Finance Act, which would exempt a feasibility survey into unconnected major artery transportation networks like a project to link the Jinjeop Line of the Subway No. 4 and the Byeolnae Line of Subway No. 8
I will also propose bills on the development of the district, the success of the President Moon government and the future of Korea down the road.
Q: Would you explain about your constituency activities and the outlook for electoral district changes?
A: At Namyangju, new satellite cities like Byeolnae New City, Dasan New City and 2nd Jinjeop District, continue to spring up. Namyangju is forecast to grow into a mega-city with a population of about 1 million, but the city’s infrastructure fails to live up to its population growth rate.
I’m concentrating on such projects as the securing of budgets on the rationalization of bus transportation and road and subway-related bills. The extension of subways and the creation of the planned Great Train Express (GTX) B-Line will make Namyangmu a more convenient city.
We’ve successfully attracted a “techno valley” in the northern Gyeonggi-do area to reinvigorate the regional economy on top of projects to build the Byeolnae Post Office, a long-time hoped-for task as well as open a second health clinic and a second police station in Namayangju. I’ll strive to push ahead with several projects to make Namyangju a city in which the expansion of infrastructure will lead to not only an increase in population, but also to the improving of lives.
I’ve tried to lend an ear to the voices of Namyangju citizens to reflect policies. I’ve introduced “Please Let Me Talk with Mr. Han-jung,” an interactive two-way parliamentary reporting session. I make every effort to develop Namyang the way citizens want to do so by continuously communicating with citizens.
Q: Would you explain constituency projects you plan to implement or have in mind?
A: My electoral district in Namyangju has the Gwangeung Forest, which is on the list of UNESCO’s biosphere reserve. A project to build woods paths, a woods library, a woods playground, and a woods garden with the goal of making Gwangeung Forest enjoyable is under way. I envision in my mind a cultural and artist village in which cultural markets will open on weekends and diverse cultural performances will take place.
I’ll work on measures to help Seoulites have easy access to Namyangju in a convenient and fast fashion, so they can take a walk in a peaceful environment and subsequently boost the city’s economy.