Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

Man-ja, or Kim Young-myung, trying to save MJ

Updated July. 05, 2014 03:48

한국어

Man-ja was born in September 1956. The second oldest sister Young-sook acted like mom, even changed diapers of her younger sister. Man-ja, in retrospect, said “Sister Young-sook was like my surrogate mother.” The name "Man-ja" was quite old-fashioned but she had been called Man-ja as she was the youngest child in the family. She feels more comfortable with the name Man-ja than her real name "Young-myung" even now. This is the story of Kim Young-myung, spouse of the ruling Saenuri Party`s former lawmaker Chung Mong-joon (MJ).

Man-ja majored in political science at Wellesley College, a prestigious women’s school in the United States. She couldn’t spread her wings in the politics as she got married with MJ, the sixth son of the Hyundai conglomerate founder, Chung Ju-yung, at the age of 23 immediately after graduating from the university. It was three months before the assassination of then President Park Chung-hee on Oct. 26, 1979. She became a stay-home-mother, raising two sons and two daughters. Given her educational background and family whose father Kim Dong-jo served as foreign minister, many people thought she would be involved in social activities. But she seemed satisfied with being a daughter-in-law of the conglomerate family.

When MJ established a new political party "National Alliance 21" in 2002 and ran for the presidency, Man-ja’s elegant look drew public attention. Attracted to her, people made comments that “her educational background, good-looking appearance and qualifications stand equal to her husband’s.” One day before the presidential election, when then candidate Roh Moo-hyun visited MJ’s house to criticize MJ for breaking the agreement on single candidate, Man-ja didn’t open the door. When MJ decided to run for office in Dongjak District of Seoul in 2012 with a bigger dream, after having been elected for the 6th term in Ulsan, the then ruling Grand National Party’s strong turf that gave easy victories to the party members in elections, Man-ja drew so near to the public to support her husband. During the campaign period for Seoul city mayoral election on June 4 this year, she actively supported for her husband in the campaign, which was in stark contrast to the wife of Mayor Park Won-soon, who concealed herself from the public.

It is said that the Saenuri Party reviewed "Kim Young-myung card" for Dongjak District, which was MJ’s constituency. In the "elections to take revenge for failed candidates," a politician’s spouse runs for office only when the politician is dead or imprisoned, aiming to earn sympathy votes. One of the past examples is politician Park Cheol-eon’s case. When he was behind the bar, his spouse Hyun Kyeong-ja ran for by-election in Daegu City and became a member of the 14th National Assembly. MJ camp gave a flat denial on the rumor of MJ’s wife running for election, by saying, “It has never been considered.” If Man-ja becomes a congresswoman, shall MJ play a role of supportive husband?