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Lee Jae-myung fandom grows despite defeat in presidential race

Former Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Former Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-myung, former presidential nominee of the liberal Democratic Party of Korea, is continuing to receive support from the general public even after last month’s presidential election defeat.

The Democratic Party has effectively decided to move forward with Lee and his aides at the center with the latest floor leader election, and his fandom is believed to help Lee return to the political scene quickly as the new leader of the liberal faction.

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, Lee’s online fandom community was composed of more than 191,000 members, a surprising gain considering the community was formed on March 10, just a day after the presidential election.

Community members are dedicated supporters who share positive news of Lee, his aides and the Democratic Party. They also launch extensive public relations efforts by refuting comments from the People Power Party and others who show a critical stance of Lee and the liberal bloc.

The community is unique in that its members show support of Lee in a similar way that fans do for celebrities, creating drawings of Lee and his wife and congratulating them on anniversaries. Many likened Lee to a chinchilla, referring to him as “Jaemchilla” as a nickname.

Leaders of the community are mostly women in their 20s and 30s, a group that the Democratic Party had shown extensive support for throughout the presidential election, which has continued ahead of the local elections in June.

These supporters also rushed to join the Democratic Party as official members after Lee suffered a close defeat to show support and encourage him to stay put in the political scene.

Many have tribute the growth in fandom to Lee’s active communication with his supporters during and after the election. Rep. Kim Nam-kuk, a close aide of Lee in the Democratic Party, said Lee has dedicated his time to actively chat with his supporter on social media.

He also accepted the community’s nomination of him to serve as the chief manager of the online fan cafe. Members of the community ran an internal vote to elect him as the leader.

Many within the Democratic Party have credited the phenomenon to the active political involvement of women in their 20s and 30s in response to that undertaken by young men in showing support for the People Power Party, particularly the party’s Chairman Lee Jun-seok and President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol.

The trend is expected to help Lee again contribute to the liberal party’s local elections campaigns and run to serve as the new party chairman in August, when the party holds its annual convention. He is expected to later run for a lawmaker seat in the next parliamentary elections.

By Ko Jun-tae (