Democrats lead in four of six Seoul districts Yonhap has previously identified as top-flight battlegrounds. Yonhap, Korea’s public news agency, selected eleven battleground districts earlier in March. Recent polling exists for at least seven of them. The Democrats look poised to hold onto three of the seats among them they currently hold, while the UFP will hold one, and both parties would flip one each, if current polling stands.
Democrat Lee Nak-yeon vs UFP Hwang Kyo-ahn
Two former prime ministers, Lee, from the Moon administration, and Hwang, former President Park’s PM and interim president, battle it out in the country’s #1 political seat, home of the Blue House and Gwanghwamun Square. Hwang is a sacrificial lamb, however; the Democrats have had a solid hold on Jongno in recent years, and Lee leads a recent poll 55.1% to 34.5%.
UFP Na Kyung-won vs Democrat Lee Soo-jin vs Justice Party’s Lee Ho-yeong
I wrote about this one for The Korea Times. Na was the conservative (then-LKP) floor leader last year and attracted liberal ire by leading the occupation of the Assembly. Lee is a former judge who retired last year to join the Democrats after claiming to face backlash over her progressive views. Lee leads in multiple polls, including a 9.5 point lead in the recent poll.
Democrat Ko Min-jeong vs UFP Oh Se-hoon
Ko hopes to keep the seat, which has been held by Democrat Choo Mi-ae, the first woman elected in Seoul, almost continuously since 1996, in female and Democratic hands. She was President Moon’s spokesperson. Oh was mayor of Seoul from 2006 to 11 and a member of the National Assembly from 2000 to 04. Ko leads 47.1% to 38.4%.
Democrat Yoon Geon-young vs UFP Kim Yeong-tae
Yoon was the director of the Blue House’s situation room for the Moon administration but has little experience in electoral politics. Kim is a three-term representative for a different district in Seoul, who briefly left the LKP for the Bareun Party after Park’s impeachment. Yoon leads 40.9% to 22.9% in a poll published last week.
Democrat Choi Jae-seong vs UFP Bae Hyeon-jin vs Justice Party’s An Sug-hyeon
A rematch of the 2018 by-election in which Choi defeated Bae. Conservatives represented this district from 2004 to 2016. Yonhap also included the Justice Party’s nominee among its listed candidates, too, but An has lost three races for local elections in Seoul and never competed in a National Assembly election. Bae leads one poll by a 40.3% to 37.5% margin.
Democrat Nam In-sun vs UFP Kim Geun-sik
This district in southeast Seoul flipped between Democrats, LKP, and Democrats in the past three elections, the past two both decided by 5 points. Incumbent Nam is an outspoken feminist. Challenger Kim is a professor focusing on North Korea at Kyungnam University.
Yeongdeung Po B
Democrat Kim Min-seok vs UFP Park Yeong-chan vs Independent Lee Jeong-hyeon
Both Democratic incumbent Kim and UFP challenger Park are former MBC journalists. Lee is a two-term Assembly member, who was the first conservative candidate to win a seat in the progressive Jeolla area, but he left the party in 2017.
UFP Thae Gu-min vs Democrat Kim Seong-gon
Thae Gu-min is one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to have defected to South Korea. He escaped in 2016, and he’s already trying to get back into government in his new home country. (He changed his name from Thae Yong-ho; his new name means “save North Koreans.”) Posh Gangnam has long been a conservative area, but Democratic nominee Kim kept the previous UFP representative under 60% in 2016 for the first time since 2000. This time he might be able to keep him under 50% (but still lose); the poll shows Thae leading 42.6% to 33.7%.
Democrat Jeon Hyeon-hee vs UFP Choi Heung
In 2016, the Democratic candidate Jeon actually beat the polls and won Gangnam B, the first Democrat to do so in years. Now the UFP has a candidate who looks like he’s out of a K drama; Choi is the former CEO of ING Asset Management and has won an award for his toned body when he was younger.
UFP Yoon Hee-suk vs Democrat Lee Jeong-geun
One of the few conservative strongholds in Seoul, this is an open seat, with the UFP running a KDI scholar, and the Democrats running a former MBC broadcaster and local party activist.