|▲ Won made a series of pledges in his first speech after winning the Jeju governorship. Photo courtesy Jeju Sori
Won Hee-ryong was announced as the new governor of Jeju Special Self-Governing Province on June 4 after the ruling New Frontier Party candidate beat off the challenge of Shin Koo-bum of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy. Won polled 60 percent, enjoying a wide margin over Shin who polled 34.5 percent.
During the campaign he spoke of his desire to see change not just locally but nationally, stating that the changes he will push through on Jeju will spread throughout the nation: “To know the future of Korea, henceforth look to Jeju,” said Won.
In his first days in office, Won has vowed to create a new provincial preparatory committee to push through previous policies and to allow citizens more input in decision making. He also aims to improve the effectiveness of the provincial council by focusing on working across party lines.
“Keeping parties separate is pointless. It is more meaningful to work for the ‘Jeju party,’ ” adding that the committee chairman and members will be appointed irrespective of party affiliation.
The new governor also vowed to ensure that local communities are fully consulted with on large-scale development projects.
“If they [developers] disregard local residents’ concerns and push ahead with problematic projects, they won’t be able to avoid political liability. I will try to my best to come up with possible avenues to prevent them from continuing,” said Won.
Won also hit out at corruption and promised to “break the wall of bureaucracy” through radical administrative reforms, vowing to clean up public office and ensure officials ethically serve their community.
Won is looking to make a novel impact on villagers in his first few months in office by engaging in his second “Village Messenger Tour.” The aim is to win over the hearts and minds of villagers and to listen to their concerns firsthand. He will be joined by a policy research team on his first visit to Gueok-ri, Daejeong-eup, in southwest Jeju.
Won was born on Jeju in 1964 and a graduate of Jeju Jeil High School. He was renowned for his ability as a student and achieved the top place in the Korean Bar Examinations in 1992. After being a lawyer he joined the New Frontier Party and was elected as an assemblyman to the 16th, 17th and 18th National Assemblies.
Won is a former general secretary of the party, then known as the Grand National Party, and his known for his reformist tendencies and has previously publicly stated his desire to run for president in the near future.
Lee among first women elected to Jeju council
Senator Lee Sunhwa [New Frontier Party] made history as one of two women, the other being Hyun Junghwa, also of the New Frontier Party, to be elected to Jeju Provincial Council. Senator Lee had already served as a member by appointment under a scheme to increase female governmental participation.
Lee was also the first female in all of Korea to become the floor leader of a political party; and, in her original career, was the first female production director on Jeju Island. She said these words after her election.
“I am very excited about writing a new history for Jeju women. I am the daughter of a haenyeo, and I am excited that I was the first elected councilwoman. As a result of this election, I would like to work with Samdo-dong and Ora-dong people [the district she was elected to represent], not only the Jeju Government; I want to acknowledge the people's choice.”
Read the full interview here.