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Park Heong-joon, a 'moderate conservative' politician

Park Heong-joon, the Busan mayoral candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, celebrates at his campaign office in Busan, Wednesday, after an exit poll showed his likely victory. Yonhap
Park Heong-joon, the Busan mayoral candidate of the main opposition People Power Party, celebrates at his campaign office in Busan, Wednesday, after an exit poll showed his likely victory. Yonhap

By Bahk Eun-ji

Park Heong-joon of the conservative main opposition People Power Party (PPP), who has become mayor of Busan, was one of the so-called "Lee Myung-bak kids" as he took various key posts under the former president.

He was born in Busan's Dong District in 1960, but he spent most of his childhood in Seoul where his family moved when he was seven years old.

He studied sociology at Korea University. During his college days, Park sustained injuries to his eyes while participating in pro-democracy demonstrations.

Park briefly worked as a reporter for JoongAng Ilbo, a vernacular daily, after graduating from university, but returned to his alma mater to undertake his master's degree and doctorate in sociology. He was appointed professor of sociology at Dong-A University in Busan in 1991. Since then, his main residence ― and base for political activities ― has been in Busan.

Park made his political debut in 2004 when he was elected as a lawmaker of the then main opposition Grand National Party (GNP), a predecessor of the PPP, in a constituency in Busan. But his bids for a National Assembly seat in the 2008 and 2012 general elections, under the GNP ticket and as an independent candidate, respectively, failed.

Under the Lee administration between 2008 and 2013, he took several positions at Cheong Wa Dae including assistant secretary for public relations, senior secretary for political affairs and special adviser on social issues.

From 2014 to 2016, he served as secretary-general of the Office of the National Assembly.

Whenever he lost elections or took a break from political activities, Park has returned to Dong-A University as a teacher which has been denounced by his fellow professors as an indication that he pays more attention to politics than teaching.

Although he was a one-term lawmaker, public recognition of him has been high as he has made a lot of TV appearances, mostly on debate programs, where he has endeavored to establish an image of a himself as a moderate conservative.


Bahk Eun-ji ejb@koreatimes.co.kr


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