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Breaking Barriers: Samsung Veteran Yang Hyang-ja Establishes ‘Korea’s Hope’, a New Tech-centric Political Party

Yang Hyang-ja, a 56-year-old independent member of South Korea’s National Assembly known as the ‘semiconductor evangelist’, is forming a new political party tentatively named ‘Korea’s Hope’. Having spent a significant part of her career in Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor division, rising to an executive position, Yang Hyang-ja transitioned into politics through the Democratic Party before departing in 2021.

Currently the head of the ruling party’s special semiconductor committee, Yang has been an advocate for the ‘K Chips Act’. According to reports on May 30th, Yang is actively planning to establish ‘Korea’s Hope’, with an inaugural meeting set for June 26th at the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business’ conference room in Yeouido, Seoul.

Speculation is rife about the composition of the new party, as it remains unclear who will join the over 200 individuals required for its formation. Given Yang’s background, it’s suggested that former Samsung executives may be amongst the founders. Adding to this conjecture, Yang recently co-authored a book titled ‘Hidden Heroes’, detailing the Korean semiconductor industry’s history of overcoming challenges, alongside former head of Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, Lim Hyung-gyu.

Korea’s Hope is expected to adopt a pragmatic and moderate approach, promoting industry and business-led growth and moving beyond the traditional progressive-conservative dichotomy. The party’s primary goal is ‘a leap forward beyond democratisation and into a leading nation’, as outlined in its platform obtained by The Elec.

Promising to move beyond the existing bipartisan politics, the party asserts in its platform that “Politics has long since become an arena of conflict where incompetent and bad people gather,” underlining the necessity of political restoration for Korea to rise as a global leader.

The new party’s primary agendas include being youth-led, employing blockchain technology, taking a pragmatic approach devoid of ideological constraints, and putting science, technology, and industry at the centre of policy.

Yang’s decision to form a new party reportedly comes from a belief that the existing structure, largely dominated by the Democratic Party and the People’s Power, is inadequate to foster forward-thinking leaders. She hopes to distinguish her party through a growth-centric approach based on technology and industry.

As the highest-ranking member of the Democratic Party, Yang entered politics in 2016 and was elected as a Democratic Party candidate in Gwangju Metropolitan City in the 2020 general elections. In July 2021, she left the party and became independent. Later, in 2022, she led the ruling party’s special semiconductor committee and championed a semiconductor support bill.

While some believe that the existing tight race between the Democratic Party and People’s Power may limit the impact of Yang’s new party in the upcoming general elections, others argue that establishing this ‘third zone’ may generate support if it successfully builds a compelling constituency.

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