The recent National Assembly elections in South Korea produced two results that may be of interest to North Korea watchers. The first and more obvious is the election of Cho Myung Chul as a proportional representative. Cho, running for the GNP/NFP slate, is most likely the first North Korean to ever be elected through a genuine democratic process. (Although if I’m wrong please feel free to leave a comment correcting me) A long time North Korea watcher himself and founder of the North Korea blog at the Chosun Ilbo, Cho’s ascendance to the National Assembly signals a step in the right direction for the North Korean refugee community in the ROK. Having had a chance to meet and interpret for Cho at a conference in Ottawa many years back, I can attest that he’s a genuinely humble person and wish him the best of luck.
The other result is less obvious. Also elected as a proportional representative on the NFP slate is Jasmine Lee, a Filipino-Korean actress. Her election, a landmark event in what was once racially homogenous South Korea, has sparked quite the controversy: a substantial number of netizens have posted racially inflammatory remarks about Ms. Lee. Read the rest of this entry »