Han Dong-hoon, third from right, interim leader of the ruling People Power Party, watches the exit polls of the general elections with other party members at the National Assembly in Seoul, Wednesday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul

The future of Han Dong-hoon, interim leader of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), came under question following the crushing defeat of his party in the general elections, Wednesday.Exit polls of the nation’s three major broadcasters showed that the PPP was likely to win only 85 to 105 seats out of 300, while the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea was projected to secure 178 to 197 seats.Regarding the exit poll results, Han said, “Our party did our best to engage in politics that reflect the will of the people, but the exit poll results are disappointing.”The larger-than-expected gap with the party’s liberal rival is driving Han into a corner, with political observers anticipating that he may resign soon to take responsibility for the loss.They noted, however, that this setback would not mean the end of Han’s political journey, saying he is likely to make a comeback several years later, after taking time for self-examination.Park Chang-hwan, a political commentator and professor at Jangan University, said the political novice could have saved himself even if the ruling party lost on the condition that it had secured some 120 to 130 seats.“Han’s future now hangs in the balance with (the PPP) securing under 110 seats,” Park said. “I think Han showed not only potential as a politician but also limitations during this election campaigning.”

Han, a former prosecutor and close aide to President Yoon Suk Yeol, was Yoon’s first justice minister.Han became a uniquely popular figure while serving as the justice minister, interacting directly and assertively with opposition lawmakers, and providing robust critiques and rebuttals during National Assembly sessions.With hopes that he could be a savior for the ruling bloc as it grappled with falling popularity ahead of the elections, Han became the conservative party’s leader last December, and has since undertaken a rigorous campaign to help his party regain voters’ trust.Following the failed mission, Han will likely choose to disappear from the public’s view for a while, distancing himself from the imminent internal turmoil of the PPP, according to Shin Yul, a professor of political science at Myongji University.“The best timing for his return to the political scene would probably be the next local elections in 2026. At that time, the conservative party will, again, need a formidable figure (like Han),” Shin said. “Han would not want to spoil his image by getting too deeply engaged in politics until then.”Political commentator Park Sang-byeong expressed a similar view, saying that Han is likely to take a low-key position for a while as it remains unclear what his next possible move will be.“I think his possible comeback would be in local elections where he would want to play a similar role as he did in the general elections,” Park said. “Ultimately, he could take steps to become a political heavyweight as a presidential candidate, but I don’t think that would be a good choice at a time when many people have already shown disappointment in the 온라인카지노 prosecutor-turned-president.

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