Democratic Party of Korea

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Democratic Party of Korea
LeaderLee Jae-myung[1]
Floor leaderPark Hong-keun
Secretary-GeneralCho Jung-sik
Chair of the Policy Planning CommitteeKim Sung-hwan
  • March 26, 2014 (2014-03-26)[a]
  • December 28, 2015 (2015-12-28)[b]
Merger of
Preceded by
Headquarters7, Gukhoe-daero 68-gil, Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul
Think tankThe Institute for Democracy
Youth wingDemocratic Party of Youth
Membership (2019)4,065,408[2]
Political positionCentre to centre-left
  •   Blue[h][11]
  •   Sea blue[i][12]
National Assembly
169 / 300
Metropolitan Mayors and Governors
5 / 17
Municipal Mayors
63 / 226
Provincial and Metropolitan Councillors
332 / 872
Municipal Councillors
1,384 / 2,988
Website Edit this at Wikidata
Democratic Party of Korea
Revised RomanizationDeobureominjudang
New Politics Alliance for Democracy
Revised RomanizationSaejeongchi Minju Yeonhap
McCune–ReischauerSaejŏngch'i Minju Yŏnhap

The Democratic Party of Korea (DPK; Korean더불어민주당; Hanja더불어民主黨; RRDeobureominjudang; lit. Together Democratic Party)[j], formerly known as the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), is a liberal[14][15][16][17][18] political party in South Korea. The DPK is regarded as one of two major parties in South Korea, along with its rival, the People Power Party (PPP).

The party was founded on 26 March 2014 as a merger of the Democratic Party and the preparatory committee of the New Political Vision Party (NPVP). In 2022, Open Democratic Party,[19] New Wave,[20] joined together and gathered political new forces of various tendencies to take a big tent position.[21][22]


Formation and Ahn–Kim leadership (March – July 2014)[edit]

Headquarters of the Democratic Party
Logo of the NPAD (2014–2015)

The Democratic Party was formed as the New Politics Alliance for Democracy[23] (새정치민주연합; Saejeongchi Minju Yeonhap) on 26 March 2014 after an independent group led by Ahn Cheol-soo, then in the process of forming a party called the New Political Vision Party, merged with the Democratic Party led by Kim Han-gil. The former Democratic Party was absorbed into the NPAD while the preparatory committee of the NPVP was dissolved, with members who supported the merger joining the NPAD individually. Ahn and Kim became joint leaders of the new party.[24] When the party performed poorly in by-elections that July, both leaders stepped down, having served for three months. Leadership of the party was then assumed by an emergency committee.[25]

Ahn–Moon split (2015 – 16)[edit]

The next year, at a party convention on 7 February, Moon Jae-in was elected the new chairman of the party.[26] Moon, who had previously served as chief of staff for former president Roh Moo-hyun,[26] was the leader of the party's "pro-Roh" faction, which was opposed to Ahn and Kim. Moon came under fire for imposing a "pro-Roh hegemony" in the party, as Ahn and Kim were jeered and harassed at a memorial service for Roh held in May 2015.[27]

As the factional conflict intensified, the party lost support, falling from around 40 to 30 percent in opinion polls.[28] A survey conducted on 12–14 November 2015 showed that supporters of the party wanted Ahn and Seoul mayor Park Won-soon to assume the leadership alongside Moon.[29] On 29 November, Ahn rejected a proposal from Moon to establish a joint leadership,[30] and presented Moon with a demand to call a convention to elect a new party leader. Moon rejected his demand,[31] and Ahn left the party.[32]

Ahn was followed by a number of NPAD assembly members, including his former co-leader Kim Han-gil[33][34] and Kwon Rho-kap, a former aide of President Kim Dae-jung from the party's stronghold of Honam.[35] Ahn and Kim merged their group with that of another defector from the NPAD, Chun Jung-bae, to form the People Party.[36]

Following the defections, the NPAD was renamed the Democratic Party of Korea on 27 December 2015, and Moon resigned as party leader on 27 January 2016.[37] Kim Chong-in, an academic and former assemblyman who served as an economic advisor to President Park Geun-hye, was appointed party leader.[38][39] Kim was seen as an unexpected choice, as he had previously worked for the conservative Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo administrations in the 1980s,[40] serving as an assembly member for the ruling Democratic Justice Party and as health and welfare minister.[41]

Under Kim Chong-in (January – August 2016)[edit]

Kim Chong-in viewed the pro–Roh Moo-hyun faction and what he considered the extremist wing of the party as responsible for the party's troubles, and pledged to diminish their influence.[42]

In the lead-up to the 2016 legislative election he deselected Lee Hae-chan, who had been Prime Minister under Roh and was now chairman of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation as a candidate.[43] Lee left the party in response.[42] Many of Kim's nominations for the party's list were rejected by the rest of the party leadership, while favored candidates of Moon were ranked near the top of the approved list. Kim offered to resign in March, but stayed on as leader after a visit from Moon.[44] Kim stated that he would continue to attempt to change the party's image, saying that the events had shown the party was "still unable to move on from its old ways".[38]

2016 legislative election[edit]

Though losing votes to the People's Party formed by Ahn, Chun and Kim Han-gil—particularly in Honam[28]—the party emerged as the overall winner of the election, receiving a plurality of seats (123 seats) in the National Assembly with a margin of one seat over the Saenuri Party. Lee Hae-chan returned to the Assembly as an independent representing Sejong City. Following its electoral victory, Kim announced that the Democratic Party would shift its focus from welfare to economic growth and structural reform. Kim stated that the party would also change its position to support the establishment of for-profit hospitals, in contrast to the party's earlier opposition to the policy.[45]

Under Choo Mi-ae (August 2016 – August 2018)[edit]

2017 presidential election[edit]

After the constitutional court impeached President Park Geun-hye for bribery, the Democratic Party's Moon Jae-in won the presidential election with 41.1% of votes, with Hong Joon-pyo of Liberty Korea coming second with 24%.

Under Lee Hae-chan (August 2018 – August 2020)[edit]

2020 legislative election[edit]

On 15 April 2020, the Democratic Party won an absolute majority with 180 seats in the 300-member National Assembly with its allies. The main opposition United Future Party (UFP) won 103 seats.[46]

Under Lee Nak-yon (August 2020 – March 2021)[edit]

On 9 March 2021, Lee Nak-yon resigned as the leader of the Democratic Party of Korea to run for president in the 2022 South Korean presidential election.[47]

2021 by-elections[edit]

Following the major losses in the 2021 by-elections, party leadership was reorganized.[48] Do Jong-hwan became the interim party President.[48]

Under Song Young-gil (May 2021 – present)[edit]

2022 presidential election[edit]

In October 2021, the Democratic Party nominated Lee Jae-myung as its nominee in the 2022 presidential election over other contenders such as former Democratic Party leaders Lee Nak-yon and Choo Mi-ae. Lee ultimately lost the election with 47.83% of the vote.[49]


Democratic Party of Korea is primarily portrayed as a centrist party[50] But, the DPK is one of the two main political parties in South Korea, which has been classified as centre-left in the context of South Korean politics because it forms an opposition to the right-wing PPP.[51]

However, some researchers evaluate DPK as having a center-right policy in international standards. That is why some researchers have placed the DPK to the right of the German centre-right Christian Democratic Union of Germany.[52] They also describe their party's identity as centrist-conservative or centre-right.[53] Since its founding, DPK has gradually moved in a progressive direction.[54][55]

The DPK and DPKs major politicians show a political line combining National liberalism and left-liberalism.[4][3] DPK's Korean nationalistic sentiment is mainly related to liberal anti-imperialism against Japan and neighboring powers, and is different from right-wing ethnic nationalism such as Ilminism.[56] South Korean liberals, including the DPK, have traditionally supported pro-immigrant civic nationalism, opposing racism and supporting the establishment of the "immigration office" (이민청).[57] The DPK is officially rooted in the 1955 classical-liberal "Democratic Party".[58]

During the early days of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo performed the duties of co-representatives. They took a tough stance in relations with North Korea and pursued harmony between selective welfare and universal welfare. Because they played the role of conservatives in the party, [59] they faced criticism from progressives inside the party for being 'center-right', and some progressives withdrew from the party. They took responsibility for the defeat in local elections and resigned as party leaders. [60] Two of them, Kim Han-gil and Ahn Cheol-soo, later joined the right-wing PPP.[61]

Afterwards, the moderate Christian-democratic Park Young-sun and the moderate Moon Hee-sang continued to serve as representatives.[62] Later, in the democracy leadership election, Moon Jae-in won the conservative Park Jie-won[63] He lost to Park Ji-won in the party membership vote, but won the polls and won.

However, afterward, due to the party's internal investigations and opposition from the party's conservatives, such as saying that they would leave the party if Moon Jae-in did not step down, the party leader Moon Jae-in resigned, and after that, Kim Chong-in's emergency committee was launched.[64] Although he was a member of the conservative party, he insisted on economic democratization. However, he also later moved to PPP.[65]

Afterwards, Choo Mi-ae and Lee Hae-chan continued to serve as representatives. All of them are on the progressive side of the party. Lee Hye-chan suggested a move in a progressive direction, saying that the current party was centre-right by international standards.[66]

After that, moderates such as Lee Nak-yeon and Kim Tae-nyeon continued to hold the party leadership positions. However, after the progressive Lee Jae-myung was elected as the party's representative, the party moved in a progressive direction, to the dismay of the conservative factions.[67]


The DPK can be seen as a big tent political party. There are politicians with various ideologies in the DPK, but they are usually referred to as figures rather than ideologies.

As of October 2022, the centrist faction centered on 'allies of Moon Jae-in' or 'allies of Lee Nak-yeon' (친문 or 친낙) and the center-left faction centered on 'allies of Lee Jae-myung' party leader (친명, 이재명계) are at odds.[68] And although the influence has been reduced compared to the past, there is also a conservative center-right faction centered on National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo.[69]

Progressives such as the pro-Lee Jae-myung group have high support from party members, but less support from members of the National Assembly and delegates.

In the election for the chairman of the National Assembly, the pro-Lee Jae-myeong faction won 18 votes out of 170 members, but in the party representative election, which is decided by party members' votes, more than 70% of the party members supported Lee Jae-myeong[70]

In the centrist reformist faction, the candidates supported between the progressives and the conservatives are often dispersed. Pro-Moon Jae-in supporters support the liberal populists, such as Lee Jae-myung, while pro-Lee Nak-yeon and pro-Jeong Sye-gyun supporters support the conservatives.[71]

Liberal populists[edit]

Lee Jae-myung, Party leader, Prior to 2017, he supported firm progressive policies, including Universal basic income. At the time, he was called South Korea's Bernie Sanders for arguing for hardline policies that were different from the moderate Democratic mainstream. However, after 2017 he moved sharply in a more moderate direction.[72]

Social liberal[3] populist like Lee Jae-myung, who are not clear between cultural conservatism and progressivism, but support centre-left policies based on New Deal liberalism.[73] In South Korean politics, 'allies of Lee Jae-myung' usually means a Radical[74] faction within the DPK. However, as it enters the mainstream, Congressman Lee Jae-myung also accepts some of the economic liberalism positions, such as tax relief and corporate deregulation claims, and supports a more moderate position than in the 2017 primary.[75]Historically he was evaluated as a 'progressive' presidential candidate,[76] but now he is evaluated as a 'liberal' presidential candidate. This trend intensified during the 20th presidential election, emphasizing "centrism and civic integration".[77] During the presidential campaign, he spent a lot of time meeting and gaining support from centrist conservatives on the grounds of centrist expansion.[78][79] Some columnists of the Hankyoreh evaluated Lee Jae-myeong as saying, "I should have shouted for reform and change, not pragmatism and integration," revealing regret for turning to a more moderate stance.[80]

Lee Jae-myung is more culturally liberal than the mainstream DPK politicans. Lee Jae-myung supports anti-discrimination law.[81] Lee discussed the anti-discrimination law with Cha Hae-young (차해영), a local member of the Mapo District Council and LGBT politician within the DPK.[82] Lee was pro-choice and advocated expanding the rights of abortion women in medical insurance,[83] and he opposes the possibility that the conservative-backed "abolition of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family" (여성가족부 폐지).[84] However, sometimes they did not take a clear position on the enactment of the anti-discrimination law, arguing that a 'social consensus' (사회적 합의) was needed, or took an unfriendly stance towards the protesters demanding the enactment of the anti-discrimination law. His position on feminism is also somewhat ambiguous.[85][86]

Some LGBTs in DPK, including Cha Hae-young, are friendly to Lee Jae-myung. There is an informal LGBT rights organization within the DPK. They are generally strongly opposed to the party's conservative wing and are friendly to the Lee Jae-myung faction, which is more pro-LGBT than the party's mainstream.[87]

They enjoy high support among party members, but not much support among the party's National Assembly and delegates. As a pro-Lee Jae-myung faction, Cho Jeong-sik, who ran for the National Assembly speakership for The DPK, received only 18 votes out of 166, losing overwhelmingly to conservative competitor Kim Jin-pyo, who received 89 votes. Because of this, some members of the National Assembly campaigned to have the speaker of the National Assembly elected by party members rather than by members of the National Assembly.[88]

Diplomatically, they support a tougher foreign policy toward Japan, unlike centrist-reformists. They support military cooperation with the United States, but oppose all forms of military cooperation with Japan. Moon Jae-in (a centrist-reformist politician) supported military cooperation with Japan before the 2019 Japan-South Korea trade dispute, with military exercises conducted by the United States, South Korea, and Japan in 2017.[89] Even now, centrist-reformists have a relatively moderate view of Japan, but social-liberal populists, are critical of Japan. The centrist media Hankook Ilbo described it as "anti-Japan politics" [90] In an editorial, the Kyunghyang media criticized Lee Jae-myeong's remarks about Japan as 'excessive claims'.[91]

Centrist reformists[edit]

Centrist reformists have dominated the DPK.[92][93][68] Currently, Lee Nak-yeon is considered a representative centrist reformist.[68] The former president, Moon Jae-in is a centrist reformist,[68] took a culturally liberal approach to military reform, school reform, and environmental issues, but a somewhat moderate socially conservative approach to disability rights and LGBT rights.[8] Moon Jae-in was interested in gender inequality in South Korea and supported feminism, which drew backlash from some young men who were negative about feminism. In addition, there is also a (정세균계) centered on former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun, and unlike the (친문) faction mainly centered on Moon Jae-in, they support conservatives inside the party such as Chairman Kim Jin-pyo and are more economically liberal than other centrist reformists.[94]

They have the most moderate diplomatic view of Japan, except for the classical liberals who are a minority within the DPK. Moon Chung-in, a special advisor to Foreign Affairs and National Security during the Moon Jae-in government, insisted that Korea and Japan work together to mediate excessive conflicts between the United States and China and promote peace in Northeast Asia.[95]


Kim Jin-pyo, National Assembly Speaker. Although he is one of the most conservative members of the Democratic Party, he was elected speaker of the National Assembly with the support of a majority of members. He has been controversial in the past for his advocacy of theocracy and his claims to treat LGBTQ people.

Conservatives like Kim Jin-pyo[96][97][98][99] are conservative liberals, who are socially conservative in their support for anti-abortion legislation and oppose LGBT rights, while being economically liberal.[100] Kim Jin-pyo was evaluated as closer to "conservatism" than "centrism" in a Korean media survey.[101] He introduced the 'Homosexuality Healing Movement' as one of the countermeasures against the low birth rate, and was criticized by liberal media such as the Hankyoreh, saying that he did not know what was different from PPP. [102] He won the support of the majority of lawmakers in the primary to elect the speaker of the National Assembly for the DPK.[94]

It can also include the case of taking a Christian democracy stance like Congressman Park Young-sun. She claimed that "I was the strongest opponent of the 300 members of the National Assembly in the past on homosexuality".[103] However, she is now a much more moderate conservative, saying she has no opposition to homosexuality and supports anti-discrimination laws unlike in 2016. She said she supported the anti-discrimination law in 2021.[104][105]

Moderate conservatives from conservative parties such as Yang Seung-jo, Kim Young-choon, Kim Young-choon and Kim Boo-kyum may be included. They joined the DPK after taking a reformist stance in the mainstream conservative party in Korea. Inside the DPK, they are taking a relatively conservative stance, such as opposing reform bills that include operating room CCTV installations.[106]

Conservatives in the DPK are politically at odds with left-liberal populists represented by Lee Jae-myeong and others.[107] Whenever there was a dispute, they demanded that the pro-Lee faction voluntarily leave the party, or insisted that the party could split if it continued like this.[108]

They are at odds with progressive faction in the party in many ways, but tend to agree to some extent on issues related to Japan. The conservative diplomat views within the DPK are closer to the left-liberals than the classical liberals. Some of them have similarities to the right-wing PPP, such as the nuclear armament theory, but they are not quite the same. Because they promote policies based on pacifism on the Korean Peninsula. (South Korea's centrist classical-liberals and right-wing conservatives are anti-communists and moderately friendly to Japan.)[109]


There are several political minorities in the Democratic Party. They take a critical stance towards the party mainstream, though with little ideological coherence.[110]

Classical liberals like Kum Tae-seop, who support economically and culturally liberalism. Kum Tae-seop attended the Queer Festival and urged DPK to set up a booth at the festival.[111] However, Kum Tae-seop has left the party, and classical liberals are no longer mainstream in the DPK. Some classical liberals remain in the DPK, but they are critical of the anti-Japanese sentiment of the mainstream DPK. In Hankyoreh, center-left journalist, there was also an opinion that the DPK's excessive use of anti-Japanese sentiment was not helpful in the national interest.[112]

American-style liberals like Park Ji-hyun, who support immigrant rights, liberal feminism and cultural liberalism. Although they are left-liberals, they have relatively weak populist tendencies and are culturally liberal-to-progressive, so there is a political conflict with 'allies of Lee Jae-myung'.[113][114] She has criticized the US abortion rights ruling and is a supporter of abortion rights.[115]

People from the left-wing progressive Democratic Labor Party, such as Congressman Park Yong-jin, threw a vote against the DPK's budget plan, calling it a 'tax cut for the rich'.[116] However, there is criticism that he also insisted on reducing corporate tax.[117]

Political stance[edit]

Economic and labour policies[edit]

The DPK supports the expansion of fiscal expenditures to gradually increase welfare alongside elements of economic liberalism and fiscal conservatism. The party supports the market economy, but also values the need for state intervention in the market.[118] In 2020, the party pledged to implement a version of the Green New Deal to move South Korea towards carbon neutrality by 2050.[119]

The party takes a favorable stance on government intervention in the market, while keeping some distance from labour politics and labour movements. For this reason, the DPK has been labelled as a "conservative liberal" party.[120]Also, several columnists in the liberal Hankyoreh described the DPK as the Liberal Conservative Party.[121]

However, Lee Jae-myung supports New Deal liberalism, which is economically progressive and labor-friendly, unlike Moon Jae-in, who was a pro-Chaebol centrist. Therefore, it is actively supported by former and current executives of major labor unions in South Korea.[122] Lee Jae-myung was compared to "FDR's New Deal Coalition" because he formed a big tent political coalition based on liberalism that brought together socially conservative people (antifeminist "Dixiecrat"), reformist liberals, left-wing socially progressives, and anti-Chaebol labor activists.[123]

The DPK is officially rooted in the 1955 classical-liberal "Democratic Party". But the current DPK got closer to moderate Keynesian than to classical-liberal economic policy of the past.[58]

Social policies[edit]

The DPK's social stances are inconsistent. The DPK is generally classified as a liberal political party, therefore should be socially liberal,[124][125][126][127] but the party is also influenced by Christian movements, so it has some socially conservative character.[k] The party opposed the legalization of same-sex marriage during the 2018 local elections.[130][8][131][132] However, some DPK mamber's opposes discrimination against homosexuals outside of marriage and argues that they should be treated with dignity and supported the anti-discrimination law. There are LGBT members and politicians within the DPK.[133]

Many DPK politicians are friendly to the etiquette and Confucian traditions of Korean culture.[134][135] The Hankyoreh and Hankook Ilbo, South Korean socially liberal newspapers, strongly criticized the DPK for holding a discussion on the pros and cons of the anti-discrimination law and giving anti-LGBT activists the right to speak.[136][137]

The DPK's Christian influences have also been criticized by other religious groups. In December 2021, the Moon Jae-in government invested 1.2 billion won (US$1,000,000) in a campaign to promote carol music in stores such as restaurants and cafes. The Buddhist community protested, calling it a policy that gives preferential treatment to a specific religion.[138]

The DPK's social conservatism on issues related to LGBT rights and feminism mainly draws from Christianity,[8] but outside of those topics the DPK demonstrates moderate-to-liberal social policy. The DPK opposes corporal punishment for children and led the complete abolition of laws that justified corporal punishment for children in the past. The DPK also supports strengthening punishments for domestic violence.[139][140]

The DPK views South Korea's dog meat intake culture negatively and has criticized it from a liberal perspective. President Moon Jae-in said he was considering a legal ban on dog meat in September 2021.[141] The DPK also actively supports the rights of vegetarians and vegan citizens.[142] In addition, the DPK supports liberal reforms on student rights issues.[143]

The DPK's position on abortion is undefined, and varies for each politician. There are some socially conservative politicians who oppose women’s right to abortion care, but most of the DPK is pro-choice. Lee Jae-myung, the DPK candidate for the 2022 South Korean presidential election, insisted on expanding health insurance for abortion and contraceptives.[144]

The DPK takes an ambiguous position that neither supports nor opposes the abolition of the National Security Act.[145]

Rights of immigrants and foreigners[edit]

Most of the main politicians of the Democratic Party show pro-immigrant tendencies, and factions differences are not noticeable in this regard.[146][147] DPK is opposes racism and Xenophobia. The party is supporting immigrant human rights and establishment of the "immigration office"[3] They takes an inclusive position for foreigners, such as supporting all 'right of foreigners to vote in local elections' who have lived for a certain period of time or more in compliance with South Korean laws, which conflicts with conservatives who insist on limiting some of the foreign voting rights.[148]

Foreign policy[edit]

The DPK's view of Japan varies from individual politician to politician, but the DPK's major politicians view Japanese conservatism negatively.[149] On the other hand, the DPK maintains a friendly stance on the United States. The Moon Jae-in government deployed four additional THAAD launchers in 2017, for which the progressive Justice Party criticized the Moon Jae-in administration as a "poodle of Trump".[150] Moon Jae-in said in September 2017 in front of Trump and Shinzo Abe, "The United States is our ally, but Japan is not our ally".[151]

According to 2021 statistics, most of the DPK supporters prefer the United States in the two major powers, the United States and China. Of DPK supporters, 12.3 percent supported friendly relations with China over the United States, but 62.8 percent supported friendly relations with the United States over China. The antipathy toward China, which transcends the political orientation of South Koreans, leads to strong pro-American sentiment.[152] The DPK's pro-U.S. tendency tends to go with the conciliatory tendency toward North Korea. Major DPK politicians tend to seek to ease sanctions on North Korea through friendly relations with the United States. Song Young-gil, a former DPK leader, proposed to the United States to make North Korea a pro-U.S. country like Vietnam in 2021.[153]

Many DPK members is critical of Japanese culture because it supports Hosaka Yuji's "New Chinilpa" (Korean신친일파) discourse. Hosaka Yuji (Korean호사카 유지; Hanja保坂祐二;), a Ilbongye Hangugin and former DPK politician, argued that the excessive influx of Japanese culture such as J-pop, anime, and manga into the South Korea is increasing the number of "New Chinilpa" in the South Korea. He negatively evaluated Japanese culture, saying that this was deliberately encouraged by the Japanese government. He also criticized the "Anti-Japan Tribalism" discourse as "slavery grit" (Korean노예근성) that internalized the "hate of Korean" in Japanese right-wing or far-right forces, and argued that the anti-Japan sentiment of South Koreans was absolutely justified.[154][155] The liberal media in South Korea are in a similar position, which criticizes misogyny in Japanese culture, citing inappropriate sexual portrayals of young women and social oppression of the MeToo movement.[156][157]

The DPK a recognizes China as a vicious hegemonic country that afflicts Korea, similar to Japan. Lee Jae-myung and other major DPK politicians criticize China for robbing and invading Korean culture.[158] Some DPK politicians, including Kim Dong-yeon, are also active supporters of VANK, which shows anti-Japan and anti-China tendencies based on liberal anti-imperialism.[159] However, DPK officially is pro-immigration, so it opposes racism against Chinese and Japanese people.[160]

Prior to 2022, the DPK had supported a fairly friendly relationship with Russia, with the aim of hoping that Russia would support the Sunshine Policy, it is also related to anti-Japan and anti-China sentiment among South Korean liberals. The current DPK opposes the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine and supports economic sanctions against Russia and support for Ukraine,[161][162] but historically, it sought to maintain good relations with Russia by favoring Russia's Eurasianism (유라시아주의) foreign policy or voting on a 'political party cooperation protocol' (정당협력의정서) with United Russia.[163][164]

On February 25, 2022, Lee Jae-myung drew much criticism for criticizing Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a "In Ukraine, a novice politician of six months became president and declared (Ukraine's) accession to NATO, which provoked Russia and eventually led to a clash". On February 26, the day after the social controversy over this, Lee officially apologized for the remarks and made it clear that he opposes Russia's war of aggression and supports Ukraine.[165][166]

Currently, the DPK is critical of China and Japan in support of its resistance-nationalist diplomatic views, so it takes a contradictory stance that supports both a smooth relationship with Russia and a friendly relationship with its traditional ally, the United States. They are only in favor of "minimum" sanctions on Russia to the extent that the United States demands, so as not to provoke the Unites States. Many DPK politicians also opposed Zelensky's video speech to the South Korean parliament.[167] DPK caused controversy in April 2022 by inviting a pro-Russian professor who denied Bucha Massacre at a party forum. (This was done separately from the 'official' support position for Ukraine.)[168]

The DPK opposes Japan's ability to fight back, strengthen its military capabilities, and revise Japan's constitution for fear of increasing South Korea's military spending. The U.S., China, Japan, and Russia, which surround South Korea, are all global military powers.[169]

The DPK has a somewhat favorable attitude towards Israel. In 2018, the Moon Jae-in government abstained from the UN resolution ES-10/L.23 vote criticizing the Israeli response to the 2018 Gaza border protests. The Moon Jae-in government officially signed a free trade agreement with Israel in 2021.[170] Koreans and Israel's main ethnic group Jews were victims of war crimes by Japan and Germany during World War II, respectively. Some South Korean conservative or liberal media outlets compare Koreans' historical sorrow to Jews' 'Diaspora' (디아스포라).[171][172]

Reunification of North and South Korea[edit]

The party strongly supports the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and aims for peaceful relations with North Korea. The party also officially advocates increasing exchanges and cooperation with the North to create a foundation for reunification.[173]


The DPK is criticized for taking a liberal hawkish stance on Japan diplomatically, promoting a 'politics of hatred' similar to the speech of right-wing Japanese nationalists to attack the opposition and promote the views of unified citizens. Kum Tae-sub, who was a DPK member at the time, but had a fairly friendly view of Japan, was criticized by some DPK supporter, saying, "Do you have a jjokbari among your ancestors?" (혹시 조상 중에 쪽바리가?).[174] In addition, Geum Tae-sub was repeatedly bullied online by numerous DPK supporters due to his Japanese-friendly diplomat, and eventually he left the DPK. For reference, Kum Tae-sub was known as the most pro-LGBT rights politician in the DPK.[175][176]

On April 9, 2020, Lee Hae-chan, then leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, denounced South Korean conservatives as "Native Wokou" (토착왜구) in the sense that they are Korean and represent Japan, and the term has since become popular among South Korean liberals.[177] The term was also used by key progressive Justice Party politicians in 2019.[178] A column in the JoongAng Ilbo, a moderate conservative media, criticized the expression Native Wokou as similar to (liberal version) McCarthyism.[179] In an article written in the centre-left liberal media Hankyoreh, left-wing socialist Hong Se-hwa criticized it as "government-led nationalism" (관제 민족주의) that has nothing to do with left-wing nationalism and criticized right-wing Japanese nationalism and hostile symbiosis.[180] There is also a controversy that DPK's hawkish anti-Japanese sentiment indirectly leads to hate speech against Japanese people living in South Korea.[181][182]

Although Japan's 'anti-Korean Japanese nationalism' is caused by historical denialism, South Korea's 'anti-Japanese Koreans nationalism' is different in that it is caused by anti-imperialism, experts say that the conflict between the two countries intensifies the most when a conservative (Mainly LDP) regime is established in Japan and a liberal (Mainly DPK) regime is established in South Korea. Ian Buruma described the relationship between the two countries as "Where the Cold War Never Ended" in which the two directions were intensified by different nationalist regimes.[183]

List of leaders[edit]

Current leadership[edit]

Emergency Response Committee of the Democratic Party of Korea
Office Officer(s)
Co-Chair Yun Ho-jung
Park Ji-hyun
Floor leader in the National Assembly Park Hong-keun
Appointed members Kim Tae-jin
Kwon Ji-woong
Chae Yi-bae
Bae Jae-jung
Cho Eung-chun
Lee So-young


  • Note: ERC - as head of Emergency Response Committee
No. Name Photo Term of office Election results
Took office Left office
1 Co-leadership
Kim Han-gil   Ahn Cheol-soo
Kim Han-Gil (cropped).jpg Ahn Cheol-Soo cropped (cropped).jpg 26 March 2014 31 July 2014 no election
Park Young-sun
4 August 2014 18 September 2014 appointed
Moon Hee-sang
Moon Hee-sang in 2019.jpg 18 September 2014 9 February 2015 appointed
2 Moon Jae-in
Moon Jae-in crop.jpg 9 February 2015 27 January 2016
Moon Jae-in – 45.3%
Park Jie-won – 41.8%
Lee In-young – 12.9%
Kim Chong-in
Kim Jongin's press conference in 2016 (cropped to Kim).jpg 27 January 2016 27 August 2016 appointed
3 Choo Mi-ae Choo Mi-ae ministerial portrait.png 27 August 2016 25 August 2018
Choo Mi-ae – 54.03%
Lee Jong-kul – 23.89%
Kim Sang-gon – 22.08%
4 Lee Hae-chan 25 August 2018 29 August 2020
Lee Hae-chan – 42.88%
Song Young-gil – 30.73%
Kim Jin-pyo – 26.39%
5 Lee Nak-yon South Korean Prime Minister Lee - 2017 (36235112603) (cropped).jpg 29 August 2020 9 March 2021
Lee Nak-yon – 60.77%
Kim Boo-kyum – 21.37%
Park Joo-min – 17.85%
Kim Tae-nyeon
김태년.png 9 March 2021 8 April 2021 succeeded
Do Jong-hwan
도종환 국회 교육문화체육관광위원회 간사.jpg 8 April 2021 16 April 2021 appointed
Yun Ho-jung
16 April 2021 2 May 2021 succeeded
6 Song Young-gil 2 May 2021 10 March 2022
Song Young-gil – 35.60%
Hong Young-pyo – 35.01%
Woo Won-shik – 29.38%
Yun Ho-jung   Park Ji-hyun
13 March 2022 7 June 2022 appointed
Woo Sang-ho
At Namdaemun Market in Jung-gu, Seoul on the morning of 23rd Woo Sang-ho are Taking commemorative photos (3) (cropped).jpg 7 June 2022 28 August 2022 succeeded
7 Lee Jae-myung 이재명 더불어민주당 당대표.jpg 28 August 2022 incumbent
Lee Jae-myung – 77.77%
Park Yong-jin – 22.23%

Floor leaders[edit]

No. Name Term of office
Took office Left office
1 Jun Byung-hun [ko] 26 March 2014 7 May 2014
2 Park Young-sun 7 May 2014 2 October 2014
Kim Yung-rok
2 October 2014 8 October 2014
3 Woo Yoon-keun [ko] 8 October 2014 6 May 2015
4 Lee Jong-kul 6 May 2015 4 May 2016
5 Woo Sang-ho 4 May 2016 16 May 2017
6 Woo Won-shik 16 May 2017 11 May 2018
7 Hong Young-pyo 11 May 2018 8 May 2019
8 Lee In-young 8 May 2019 7 May 2020
9 Kim Tae-nyeon 7 May 2020 8 April 2021
10 Yun Ho-jung 16 April 2021 24 March 2022
11 Park Hong-keun 24 March 2022 incumbent


No. Name Term of office
Took office Left office
1 Ahn Gyu-back 27 August 2016 16 May 2017
2 Lee Choon-suak [ko] 16 May 2017 3 September 2018
3 Yun Ho-jung 3 September 2018 31 August 2020
4 Park Kwang-on 31 August 2020 4 May 2021
5 Youn Kwan-suk 4 May 2021 24 November 2021
6 Kim Yeong-jin 25 November 2021 incumbent

Election results[edit]


Election Candidate Votes % Result
2017 Moon Jae-in 13,423,800 41.09 Elected
2022 Lee Jae-myung 16,147,738 47.83 Not elected


Election Leader Constituency Party list Seats Position Status
Votes % Seats +/- Votes % Seats +/- No. +/–
2016 Kim Chong-in 8,881,369 37
110 / 253
new 6,069,744 25.55
13 / 47
123 / 300
new 2nd Opposition
2020 Lee Hae-chan 14,345,425 49.91
163 / 253
Increase 53
163 / 300
Increase 40 1st Government


Election Leader Metropolitan mayor/Governor Provincial legislature Municipal mayor Municipal legislature
2014 Kim Han-gil
Ahn Cheol-soo
9 / 17
349 / 789
78 / 226
1,157 / 2,898
2018 Choo Mi-ae
14 / 17
652 / 824
151 / 226
1,638 / 2,927
2022 Park Ji-hyun
Yoon Ho-jung
5 / 17
322 / 872
63 / 226
1,348 / 2,987


Election National Assembly Metropolitan mayor/governors Municipal mayor Provincial/metropolitan councillors Municipal councillors Leader
July 2014 Kim Han-gil
Ahn Cheol-soo
4 / 15
0 / 1
Oct 2014 Moon Hee-sang
0 / 2
April 2015 Moon Jae-in
0 / 4
0 / 1
2 / 7
Oct 2015
0 / 1
2 / 9
0 / 14
2016 Kim Chong-in
3 / 8
9 / 17
11 / 26
April 2017 Choo Mi-ae
0 / 1
1 / 3
1 / 7
5 / 19
May 2017
1 / 1
2 / 4
11 / 12
2019 Lee Hae-chan
0 / 2
0 / 3
5 / 8
6 / 17
15 / 33
2021 Kim Tae-nyeon
2 / 8
0 / 2
0 / 2
2 / 9
March 2022 Song Young-gil
0 / 5
June 2022 Park Ji-hyun
Yoon Ho-jung
2 / 7

See also[edit]


  1. ^ as the New Politics Alliance for Democracy
  2. ^ as the Democratic Party
  3. ^ October 19, 2016 (2016-10-19)
  4. ^ May 13, 2020 (2020-05-13)
  5. ^ January 14, 2022 (2022-01-14)
  6. ^ April 15, 2022 (2022-04-15)
  7. ^ DPK stands in contrast to the right-wing party PPP in South Korea, and opposes the hard-line social conservatism stance of the PPP, liquidating right-wing authoritarianism, advocating political reform. However, there is controversy that the Democratic Party does not support policies that are in line with social liberalism in terms of cultural policy.
  8. ^ as Democratic Party of Korea
  9. ^ as New Politics Alliance for Democracy
  10. ^ abbreviated 민주당,[13] 민주 or 더민주
  11. ^ Historically, South Korea's Christianity traditionally belonged to the liberal camp because it supported of anti-Confucian conservatism, scientific rationalism, Korean independence movement, and Korean democracy movement.[128][129] As 'cultural liberal' issues such as LGBT, Muslim immigration, abortion, and feminism emerged in the 21st century when 'political liberal' was fully established in South Korea after democratization, Christian groups in South Korea were more likely to have friendly relations with right-wing conservative camp, including more conservative/skeptical PPP, than liberal camp like progressive/active Justice Party and the more moderate/compassionate Democratic Party of Korea.


  1. ^ SEO JI-EUN (28 August 2022). "Lee Jae-myung takes control of DP". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  2. ^ National Election Commission. "2019년도 정당의 활동개황 및 회계보고" (in Korean).
  3. ^ a b c d Lim, Sung-eun (3 August 2022). "Neck-and-Neck Race: Presidential Election in South Korea". Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Retrieved 4 December 2022. Twelve candidates are officially registered for the election, but two candidates are taking lead: Lee Jae-myung of the ruling left-liberal Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) and Yoon Seok-yeol of the conservative opposition People Power Party (PPP). ... His main rival, conservative Yoon Seok-yeol, is former Prosecutor General. Independent and prominent, Yoon was appointed by the left-liberal President Moon. ... The left-liberal candidate Lee stresses distribution and regulation.
  4. ^ a b The Democratic Party of Korea is sometimes referred to as the nationalism enemy or the national liberalism enemy. It is also often referred to as a similar liberal conservatism enemy.:
    • Holmes, Anthony W. (15 July 2022). "The United Nations Command Needs A Korean Deputy Commander". 19FortyFive. Retrieved 17 August 2022. The inauguration of the new administration of President Yoon Suk-yeol of the conservative People Power Party will lead to a shared view on North Korea that was absent under Yoon's nationalist-liberal predecessor Moon Jae-in. In a rare policy triangulation, South Korea, the United States, and Japan share the same view that North Korea is first and foremost a major threat to be deterred, not a misunderstood neighbor to be consoled.
    • "신자유주의, 구한말 개화파의 재림" [Neo-liberalism, the second coming of the enlightenment group in the late Joseon Dynasty]. The Hankyoreh. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2023. 다만 민주화 세력이 주창한 자유주의는 여전히 민중성·민족성과 강하게 결합돼 있었다. 문지영 영국 케임브리지대 연구원은 "(저항 이념으로서의) 한국 자유주의 역시 '개인'보다 전체로서의 '민족' 또는 '민중'을 권리의 담지자로 강조했다"고 평가한다. [However, the liberalism advocated by the democratization forces was still strongly combined with the people's character and nationality. Moon Ji-young, a researcher at the University of Cambridge in the UK, evaluates that “Korean liberalism (as an ideology of resistance) also emphasized the ‘nation’ or ‘people’ as a whole rather than ‘individuals’ as bearers of rights.”]
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External links[edit]

Media related to Democratic Party of Korea at Wikimedia Commons