Ruling party changes name to “Saenuri”
By Chung Min-uck

The ruling Grand National Party announced its new name “Saenuri,” Thursday, intended to revamp its image ahead of the April general elections. “Saenuri” is Korean for “new world.”

The party’s official English name will be introduced later.

“The emergency committee resolved to change the party’s name to Saenuri,” said Rep. Hwang Yeong-chul, a party spokesman, following a committee meeting.

“It is a name that can represent the people’s wish. It includes the meaning of a new Korea, an advanced Korea and a new world in which the nation can get together as one.”

Following the change the conservative party will drop the name Grand National Party adopted in 1997 after the merger of two parties.

The new name was chosen through public suggestions throughout the weekend.

The name will be put to a vote at a national committee meeting on Feb. 13 for final approval together with a new logo and color.

The move comes amid a fast-dwindling approval rating for the party. It has recently been hit by a series of corruption scandals, for a cyber attack on the National Election Commission during the Oct. 24 Seoul mayoral by-election, and vote-buying in its previous leadership contests.

Park Geun-hye, chairwoman of the interim emergency committee, last month proposed a name change to compromise with reformist members who have been calling for the disbanding and re-creation of the party ahead of the April 11 general election.

“Changing the name is important but how we conduct affairs after the change is more important,” said Park during a committee meeting, Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Saenuri Party and the minor Future Hope Alliance officially announced their merger. The alliance consisted of Park’s loyalists who spun off from the ruling party in 2008 claiming the party discriminated against them in selecting candidates for the general election that year.

“It is good to see the merger as it has been postponed due to various matters,” said Hwang Woo-yea, floor leader of Saenuri, in a joint press conference with leaders of the alliance. “We need to keep on expanding our boundaries based on the centrist conservative values that we uphold.”

Following the merger, the Saenuri Party’s parliamentary seats increased to 177 from 166 in the 299-seat unicameral National Assembly.

In the meantime, Jin Young-a, chief of the nationwide non-profit organization Patrolmom, resigned Wednesday as a member of the party’s candidate selection committee after admitting engaging in political activities in the past.

The party said it has no plan to choose an additional member replacing Jin.