|A citizen passes by a promotional booth for the General Election in Incheon, March 23. Yonhap|
By Do Je-hae
The rapid establishment of new parties is confusing voters ahead of the April 15 general election, as there are so many and their names are very similar.
As of March 24, there are 50 parties registered with the National Election Commission (NEC). In addition, there are 27 preparatory committees which have registered with the NEC to form new political parties soon.
Such newly launched minor parties are targeting proportional representation seats, as the revised Election Law gives a larger chance to minor parties to win these seats with the goal of reflecting various public opinions.
A number of the parties have used the same words in their names, such as "minju" or "minjoo" (democracy), "kukmin" (the people) and "mirae" (future), which will make it all the more confusing for voters when looking at the ballot sheet at the voting booths.
"Minju" is one of the most commonly used words, so far included in the names of six parties registered with the NEC.
Other than the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), most people have never heard of the other parties names using minju, such as the Unification Minju Party, United Minju Party, Future Minju Party, Minjoong Minju Party and Open Minjoo Party. Their election platforms have not been well-publicized, leaving voters without sufficient information on what the parties stand for. Most of these parties were registered only last month ahead of the general election.
There are also parties that have similar names to the main opposition United Future ("mirae") Party (UFP), including at least four that use the word "mirae" in their names.
Some parties used the old names of the UFP, such as the Saenuri Party and the Hannara Party. Others, consisting of supporters of former President Park Geun-hye, use similar names such as the Pro-Park New Party and the Pro-Park Alliance.
According to the law on political parties, a party's name should be clearly distinguishable from other registered parties. But there is no detail as to what is clear and what is not.