A number of minor progressive parties have been formed a month ahead of the upcoming parliamentary race, the country's election watchdog said Tuesday, a sign of general distrust toward the country's political establishment.
The National Election Commission (NEC) said a total of 23 parties were formally registered as of last week. In February 2015, there were 16 political parties in the country.
Except for the four parties currently holding seats in the National Assembly -- the ruling Saenuri Party, the main opposition Minjoo Party, the People's Party and the Justice Party -- 19 are extra-parliamentary, according to the commission.
Another 19 organizations have enrolled preparatory committees to establish political parties, the NEC said.
In South Korea, a political party can be registered when it has at least five municipal branches with more than 1,000 members enrolled at each one.
In February, the People's Union Party, a coalition of parties comprised of young adults, farmers and laborers, held an inauguration ceremony. It has over 20,000 members, according to its spokesman Song Young-woo.
The party promised to solve the issues of youth unemployment and non-regular employees.
"Our goal is to make inroads into the parliament by winning votes in the polls," Song said.
Some other parties are formed with an aim to voice their interests and enhance publicity without going through an official register process.
A group of disabled people formed an organization under the name of a political party but did not enroll it with the election committee nor register it with a preparatory committee.
Other unique parties include a group supporting the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon or a group calling for compensation to wartime forced laborers.
"The phenomenon seems to reflect people's distrust of the existing parties," said Lee Nae-young, a professor at Seoul's Korea University. He said such parties are being formed because people want to better voice their views and push forward certain agendas.
Related to the increase in the number of parties, the election commission said the newly created parties must meet certain requirements, such as registering candidates in local elections, to keep their formal status.
On April 6, 2012, a total of 25 parties were registered with the national election commission. The number shrank to seven right after the 2012 general elections took place on April 11, the commission said. (Yonhap)