His name was on the lips of everyone I talked with in South Korea last week. As an underdog with little name recognition but a long history of progressive organizing, he came from behind late last month to become the new mayor of Seoul.I don't mind the social welfare issues (I'm in public health, after all), as long as this Seoul homeowner's properly doesn't get jealously eyed as not part of the ninety-nine percent. My main concern, and it's probably not shared by Mr Feffer, is that (especially if there are implications for US-ROK relations) groups associated with groups associated with Mr Park are chinboista in origin or orientation, entities that at best are terribly naïve about North Korean policies or at worst complicit in their plans.
Remember his name. Park Won Soon is perhaps the first politician to win with an Occupy Wall Street platform.
A founder of the watchdog organization People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Park has been a key leader in Korea's vibrant civil society. After a couple decades as a political gadfly, he is now in a seat of considerable power. And people are talking about him not only for the positions he staked out as an independent candidate, which focused on social welfare issues, but for the potential of his victory to transform Korean politics in 2012. The implications for South Korea's relations with the North, with its other neighbors, and with the United States are enormous.