People's Party (South Korea, 2016)

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People's Party

Leader Ahn Cheol-soo
Floor leader Kim Dong-cheol
Secretary General Kim Kwan-yeong
Chairman of the Policy Planning Committee vacant
Founded February 2016 (2016-02)[1]
Dissolved 13 February 2018 (2018-02-13)[2]
Split from New Politics Alliance for Democracy[3]
Merged into Bareunmirae Party
Ideology Liberalism[4]
Radical centrism[6]
Political position Centre[7] to centre-left[8]
Slogan Bold change is beginning! (담대한 변화가 시작됩니다!; Damdaehan byeonhwa-ga sijakdoemnida!)
People's Party
Revised Romanization Gungminuidang
McCune–Reischauer Kungminŭidang

The People's Party (Hangul국민의당; Hanja國民의黨; RRGungminuidang; lit. Party of Nationals) was a political party in South Korea established on 10 January 2016. The party was established by Ahn Cheol-soo.


Plans for the party began, after Ahn Cheol-soo, who established the Democratic Party of Korea with Kim Han-gil, quit the party in mid-December 2015, after a power struggle with Moon Jae-in.[9] At the time, Ahn vowed to create a political group that can effect government change.[9]

Ahn unveiled the party's name in January 2016.[10] Kim, who co-founded the Democratic Party with Ahn, joined the party a day before the name's unveiling.[10]

The party officially launched on 2 February 2016, with 17 lawmakers in the National Assembly.[11] In March 2016, the party gained its 20th member, a defector from the Democratic Party, which gave the party rights to form a negotiation bloc, along with higher state subsidies.[4]

During the 2016 legislative election, the party aimed to pick up 20 seats.[12] The party, however, ended up garnering 38 seats, including 23 of the 28 contested seats in South Korea's southwest, which is seen as a Democratic Party stronghold.[13] Following the election, the party was seen as having a potentially deciding vote on legislation.[14]

Ahn, however, resigned his chairmanship along with co-leader Chun Jung-bae in June of the same year, following a corruption scandal involving certain party members (see below).[15] Ahn, however, was elected to a second stint as party chairman in August 2017, after an extended vacancy caused by Park Jie-won's resignation in May that year, following Ahn's defeat in the 2017 presidential election.[16]


On January 18, 2018, Ahn, along with the leader of the Bareun Party, Yoo Seong-min, announced their plans to merge the two parties, in an effort to form a centrist bloc and consolidate their parliamentary standings before local elections.[17][18] The announcement was noted as being "hasty", having come before the two respective parties underwent due process to confirm the union,[17] and was seen an attempt to consolidate the plan amidst oppositions.[17]

Within the People's Party, the plan faced opposition, especially with lawmakers from the provinces of North and South Jeolla, both of which are noted to be liberal-leaning provinces.[17]

On January 28, 16 of the party's lawmakers, including Park Jie-won and Chung Dong-young, announced plans to start a new party.[19] The lawmakers were noted to have belonged to a faction that was closely associated with late former President Kim Dae-jung.[19] The new party, named Party for Democracy and Peace, was launched on February 6.[20]

The plan was approved by the Bareun Party on 5 February 2018,[21] and was finalized by the People's Party six days later.[22]


Corruption allegation

In early June 2016, three members of the party, including two lawmakers, were accused by the National Election Commission of receiving kickbacks from the party's PR agencies, prior to elections that year.[15] One lawmaker, Kim Su-min, was accused by prosecutors of possibly receiving 178 million from advertisement firms, via forged contracts.[23] One of the members, a party official, was arrested for alleged violation of the country's Political Fund Law.[15]

The party, however, has denied that the party itself received any of the kickbacks.[23]

False accusations against Moon Jae-in

In July 2017, the party asked for a special prosecutor to look into allegations that the party's leadership was involved in making up evidence, as part of allegations that Moon Jae-in's son, Moon Joon-yong, received special treatment during the hiring process at a public agency.[24] An arrest warrant was also issued against a former member of the party's Supreme Council, which was denounced by the party as being unfair.[24]

Ahn, who ran in the presidential election that year and was noted by The Korea Herald as having stood to benefit directly from the tip-off (although he lost the election),[25] was questioned by the party's internal investigators.[25]

Party leadership


  1. Ahn Cheol-soo, Chun Jung-bae[26] (co-leaders; 2 February 2016 – 28 June 2016[26])
    • Park Jie-won as head of Emergency Planning Committee (30 July 2016 – 2 December 2016)
    • Kim Dong-cheol as head of Emergency Planning Committee (2 December 2016 – 15 January 2017)
  2. Park Jie-won (15 January 2017[27] – 10 May 2017[28])
  3. Ahn Cheol-soo (27 August 2017[30] – present)

Assembly leaders (Floor leaders)

  1. Joo Seung-yong (2 February 2016 – 27 April 2016)
  2. Park Jie-won (27 April 2016[31] – 29 December 2016)
  3. Joo Seung-yong (29 December 2016[32] – 16 May 2017)
  4. Kim Dong-cheol (16 May 2017[33] – present)

Electoral performance

Presidential elections

Election Candidate Total votes Share of votes Outcome
2017 Ahn Cheol-soo 6,998,342 21.41% Defeated Red XN

Legislative elections

Election Total seats won Total votes Vote share Outcome of election Leader
38 / 300
6,355,572 26.7% Increase 18 seats; Minority Ahn Cheol-soo
Chun Jung-bae


  1. ^ Ross, Eleanor (8 May 2017). "Why South Korea's Election Matters". Newsweek. Retrieved 12 February 2018. Ahn backed Moon in the 2012 presidential race, and was a member of Korea’s Democratic Party until he founded the People’s Party in February 2016.
  2. ^ Herald, The Korea (13 February 2018). "Two minor parties merge to create new centrist party".
  3. ^ "Former PM to run for parliamentary seat as independent". Yonhap News. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016. The People's Party that broke away from the New Politics Alliance for Democracy...
  4. ^ a b Ser, Myo-ja (17 March 2016). "Liberal People's Party welcomes 20th member". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  5. ^ Kim, Hyo-jin (5 April 2016). "Ahn's popularity baffles parties". The Korea Times. Retrieved 5 February 2018. The People's Party, which launched itself as a centrist reformist party, appears to have lured a group of conservative voters disappointed at the Saenuri Party after its nomination row.
  6. ^ "'극중' 내세운 안철수…국민의당 노선투쟁 불 붙을 듯". Newsis. Naver. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  7. ^ Yoo, Julie (5 May 2017). "South Korean presidential elections: The leading candidates". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 12 February 2018. Two candidates with more conservative leanings – Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party...
  8. ^ "(LEAD) People's Party members support Ahn's push for merger with Bareun Party". Yonhap. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018. The leader of the center-left People's Party garnered overwhelming support from its members...
  9. ^ a b Joo, Yang J. (14 December 2015). "Former opposition leader Ahn Cheol-soo defects from the party amid vehement in-house power struggle". SBS. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b Kim, Hyo-jin (8 January 2016). "Ahn's new party named 'People's Party'". The Korea Times. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Ahn's new party officially launched". Yonhap. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Parliamentary candidates launch official campaigning". Yonhap. 31 March 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  13. ^ Kim, Kwang-tae (13 April 2017). "(6th LD) Ruling party fails to win parliamentary majority". Yonhap. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Meet Ahn Cheol-soo: The South Korean software tycoon who is now Seoul's No. 1 political powerbroker". South China Morning Post. Bloomberg News. 18 April 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  15. ^ a b c Kim, Hyo-jin (29 June 2016). "People's Party falls into crisis as Ahn resigns". The Korea Times. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Ahn Cheol-soo Elected New Chairman of People's Party". KBS World Radio. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d Choi, Ha-young (18 January 2018). "Two minor parties declare merger". The Korea Times. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  18. ^ "Leaders of People's Party, Bareun Party declare merger". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Yonhap. 18 January 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  19. ^ a b Jo, He-rim (28 January 2018). "People's Party dissenters establish preparation committee for new party". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  20. ^ Jo, He-rim (6 February 2018). "People's Party defectors launch new liberal party". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  21. ^ "Bareun Party Agrees on Proposal for Merger with People's Party". KBS World Radio. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  22. ^ Jo, He-rim (11 February 2018). "People's Party finalizes decision to merge with Bareun Party". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  23. ^ a b "People's Party denies kickback scandal". Yonhap. 15 June 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  24. ^ a b Jo, He-rim (10 July 2017). "People's Party struggles to contain scandal". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  25. ^ a b Sohn, Ji-young (2 July 2017). "People's Party says Ahn Cheol-soo questioned over scandal". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  26. ^ a b "[Newsmaker] Ahn resigns amid party scandal". The Korea Herald. Herald Corporation. 29 June 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2018. Reps. Ahn Cheol-soo and Chun Jung-bae, the two cochiefs of the opposition People’s Party, resigned from their posts Wednesday...
  27. ^ Kang, Jin-kyu (16 January 2017). "Veteran lawmaker Park Jie-won will lead People's Party". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 February 2018. The People’s Party, a minor opposition party in the National Assembly, elected four-term lawmaker Park Jie-won as its chairman on Sunday.
  28. ^ "People's Party leaders resign over election defeat". Yonhap. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018. Rep. Park Jie-won announced their resignation during a disbanding ceremony of the campaign office of Ahn Cheol-soo.
  29. ^ a b "(LEAD) People's Party picks interim leader". Yonhap. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018. The minor opposition People's Party on Thursday picked Deputy National Assembly Speaker Park Joo-sun as its interim leader...
  30. ^ "(2nd LD) Ahn elected new People's Party leader". Yonhap. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  31. ^ Ser, Myo-ja (28 April 2016). "Park Jie-won picked as People's Party floor leader". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  32. ^ Hwang, Hyung-Jun (30 December 2016). "People's Party elects Joo Seung-yong as floor leader". The Dong-a Ilbo. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  33. ^ "Kim Dong-cheol Elected People's Party Floor Leader". KBS World Radio. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
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