By Lee Tae-hoon
Kim Yong-min, an opposition candidate who has made a name for his subversive chatter, has rejected his party leadership’s recommendation to drop his candidacy for Wednesday’s parliamentary elections amid growing criticism over his “filthy and profane language.”
“The real fight begins now,” Kim, a candidate for the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) in the northern Seoul constituency of Nowon-A, said Sunday during his campaign rally.
The 37-year-old said that he will let voters decide his fate, rather than be pulled out of the race by conservative politicians and the media. They have launched a full-frontal assault on him over his abusive remarks.
A day earlier, DUP Chairwoman Han Myeong-sook issued a public apology for Kim’s comments that include a lewd joke about the release of a serial killer to murder former U.S. President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
“I offer an apology to supporters of the DUP and its candidates for disappointing your expectations,” she said, noting that Kim’s controversial remarks were wrong regardless of what context they were made.
“The party asked candidate Kim Yong-min to resign, but he maintains that he will be judged by voters.”
The governing Saenuri Party, which has reeled from the Lee Myung-bak administration’s alleged illegal surveillance activities of citizens, accused the liberal party of lacking a “moral compass.”
“The DUP should take a lesson from the Saenuri Party, which expelled Rep. Kang Yong-seok from the party for making sexist remarks,” the conservative party's spokesman Lee Sang-il said.
Park Geun-hye, the head of the ruling party’s interim governing body, urged the DUP to take a greater social responsibility toward providing a sound education to students.
“I cannot help but ask the DUP what it wants to teach to our children,” she said. “I urged you to stop its (unqualified) candidates from entering the National Assembly.”
He has been under fire after an audio clip revealed that he made overly abusive and vulgar jokes, vile sexual remarks and derogatory comments to senior citizens while appearing on an internet radio program, “Kim Gura/Hani’s Plus 18” in 2004 and 2005.
Kim had also offered a public apology, saying he felt a strong sense of responsibility for making “inappropriate” remarks, but observers say he seems to be under the impression that he has fallen victim to the Saenuri’s political ploy.
They say Kim appears to be convinced that he was speaking on an entertainment show for adults and will continue to enjoy popularity for his foul-mouth without having to take any legal responsibility for his past remarks. The statute of limitations for publicly disparaging another is three
The DUP nominated him largely because he became a household name for using abusive remarks in attacking conservative politicians as a co-host of the popular three-member podcast program, titled “I’m a Petty-minded Trickster.”
Political pundits say Kim may have to abandon his candidacy as he is greatly undermining the popularity of the DUP, which depends not only on young, liberal voters, but also centralists.
They speculated that the debate surrounding Kim could be just as volatile as the fallout from the Lee administration's unlawful surveillance of civilians and serve an crucial factor in the parliamentary elections.
Kim, himself the son of a pastor, also upset church goers for saying in a recent media interview that that the local protestant church is nothing more than a criminal organization and should be eradicated.
The outspoken critic and co-host of the podcast program said in Kim Gura/Hani’s Plus 18 that former U.S. President George W. Bush would have no other choice but to relocate American military from the peninsula, if Korea took all the U.S. troops here hostage and killed them one-by-one.
He said the government should allow three largest TV stations to play porno films after midnight and weekends to increase the country’s birthrate.
He frequently used slang to refer to the sexual organs of men and women during the show.
He even suggested the removal of escalators and elevators from Seoul City Hall subway station to keep conservative seniors from gathering there to protest liberal policies.
Church groups have demanded Kim withdraw and attacked the opposition for picking such a "substandard" candidate.
The DUP insiders said they are aware of the potential impact of keeping Kim on, but have been slow to take steps for fear of alienating young supporters who are fans of I’m a Petty-minded Trickster and still want the candidate to run for the Nowon seat.
The ruling Saenuri Party, in an uphill battle in the race, is expected to ratchet up rhetoric against Kim in an apparent attempt to divert the public’s attention from its involvement in recent corruption cases, such as cash-for-votes scandal.