This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ruan (阮).
|6th Governor of Jeju|
|Assumed office |
December 4, 2015
|Preceded by||Park Lee-un|
|Leader of the Official Opposition in Jeju|
April 12, 2011 – December 4, 2015
|Preceded by||Henry Dave-Allen|
|Succeeded by||Park Lee-un|
| Member of the Jeju Assembly |
from Seogwi-dong, Seogwipo
December 4, 2010 – December 4, 2015
|Preceded by||Cheong Ki-sung|
|Succeeded by||Zheng Jinping|
|Born|| September 20, 1983|
People's Republic of China
|Political party||Chinese Rights Party|
|Alma mater|| Busan National University (BL)|
Griffith University (ML)
Ruan Lingyu (born September 20th, 1983 in Qingdao, Shandong, People's Republic of China) is a Chinese-Korean politician, activist, lawyer and writer, acting as both the chairman of the Chinese Rights Party and the governor of Jeju. She is known for being the first Chinese governor, as well as the first female governor in Korea and the youngest governor in Korea. She has very good approval ratings on Jeju, but is controversial and disliked on the Korean mainland. This is in part due to her addressing several taboo issues such as the acceptance of Chinese in Korea, along with full citizenship and voting rights for minorities outside of Jeju.
Born in Qingdao, China mere days before nuclear armaggedon, Ruan had the luck to be near Rizhao, in south-eastern Shandong (modern Jiangsu) to be shown to her paternal grandparents, when World War III started. The family managed to both be able to find a boat with place for all family members, and also survive the sea. After a harsh first few years on lawless Jeju, she began studying at school after the island was stabilized by AFoK forces, quickly excelling at it. She comes from a lower-class background. After finishing school with the best grades possible, Ruan was offered a stipendium to study at the (for Korean standards more progressive) Busan National University, where she studied law, and then was offered a further stipendium for studies in the CANZ at Griffith University in Brisbane. After she returned, she became a practicing lawyer, but she quickly gained interested in politics, joining the then relatively small Chinese Rights Party. She quickly became the figurehead of the movement and became a standing representative from Seogwi-dong, Seogwipo, a city district of Seogwipo. In the summer elections of 2015, Ruan won the gubernatorial race, throwing out the unpopular one-term governor Park Lee-un of the National Korean Front. She has been governor ever since. In the time since, she has written a memoir about the life of Chinese on Jeju prior to and immediately after the AFoK invasion of Jeju.
Early life and education
Ruan Lingyu was born on September 20th, 1983 in Qingdao, Province of Shandong, the People's Republic of China and she is one of the youngest people from Qingdao to survive. Her father is Ruan Jinping and her mother was Ke Linyuan. Her parents reportedly named her after the famous Chinese actress of the same name. She has no siblings. Ruan was brought to be presented to her paternal grandparents in Yuli Town, Wulian County, near Rizhao, when Doomsday struck. Her parents and paternal grandparents subsequently fled with her to Rizhao, where they managed to become "boat people". According to Ruan, her family first landed in North Jeolla, but was driven out, and after a brief stop in South Jeolla arrived on Jeju, settling in Seogwipo.
During the warlord era of Jeju, her family was treated badly by the local Korean gangs which controlled Seogwipo. According to her self-written memoir, one of her first memories is of her family being harassed for food and water by Korean outlaws, who then badly beat her grandfather. Her infancy continued this way, with her grandfather and grandmother dying of wounds sustained from Korean gangsters and radiation poisoning, respectively. During one incident, Ruan's mother was almost raped by an unknown attacker, the shock rendering her catatonic. While the identity of the assailant is unknown, it is theorized to be a Chinese marauder.
After the island was pacified in 1986, Lingyu and her father settled in the Seogwi-dong district of Seogwipo, and that they had to care for her mother Ke Lingyuan. Ruan herself recounted that she had to learn how to take care of her mother during the times her father worked as a fisherman. She reports having lived in poverty until 1991, when her father became the head of a fishing company in Seogwipo, which then became the largest in Seogwipo, with also the largest fishing vessel fleet. This brought stability into the life of the two, which was only broken by the death of Ke in 1992. After that, Ruan Jinping and Ruan Lingyu moved their residence to a nicer home in Jeongbang-dong.
Ruan became somewhat known for excelling at school, becoming the best student in Seogwipo by test results. She was called a child genius and was often praised for her excellent photographic memory. However, her status as a Chinese refugee barred her from entering Korea-wide schooling competitions. According to her, this was one of the first signs that Korea was not what she had thought it was: a safe haven for her.
Ruan graduated with honours from a high school in Seogwipo, and her high grades and constant good and social activity during her high school years, such as taking part in government-sponsored feeding programms for the poor and homeless and taking part in an English course to train her for business interactions between the then-developing island and the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand. As such, she received a stipendium, at the insistence of the Jeju Provincial Government, to study at Busan National University, in order to study law.
Ruan described her time in Busan as 'one of the most important moments for my political career'. While she wasn't discriminated against racially on campus (due to a number of Chinese students from Jeolla and Gyeongsang coming there previously), she received a cold treatment by locals in some parts of Busan. Ruan recounted that one day, she went out with Korean friends from the campus, only to be slurred at on the street as a 'Chinese whore', 'food stealer' and 'waste of Korean air'. During her time in Busan, she joined the Progressive Party Student's League, in which she became chapter head for the entire Busan National University. Lingyu is recorded to have been in favour of the Progressive Party during that time, participating in demonstrations in Busan at that time.
After receiving her bachelor degree in law, Ruan wanted to pursue a master's degree in Busan, but was offered a stipendium to go study at Griffith University, Brisbane, in part due to the economic importance Jeju was starting to play, and in part because her grades had been exceptional. Ruan reported meeting a vibrant Chinese culture in Brisbane and was amazed with the city. In an interview, she stated that 'if I weren't so passionate about politics and justice for us Chinese in Korea, I would have moved to Brisbane and lived out my life there'. Ruan is also known to have fallen in love with Brisbane third-wave punk rock and Queensland distortion rock. She finished her Masters in Law with honours and returned to Jeju to start practicing law.
Entry into politics
While establishing what would become the third lawyer office in Seogwipo itself, Ruan began to affiliate with the minor Chinese Rights Party, then a small party with Chinese nationalistic undertones. Ruan stated that her time in Brisbane disillusioned her from the Progressive Party's stance on Chinese people, which was to talk about a slow process of integration, which began sounding like vote-pandering while doing nothing. She joined the party and became a member, bringing in her experiences from Brisbane to show her what she saw as an important factor in her worldview. The same year she started in the party, she began campaigning locally for the seat of representative from Seogwi-dong, the port part of the city. which has a large Chinese minority. While the district was previously represented by Progressive Party representative Cheong Ki-sung, Ruan ran on a platform opposed to both the Progressive Party's stalling of Chinese rights, the Juche Party's clinging to the past and the National Korean Front's racism. Her speeches about the culture of Jeju being multicultural, yet this wouldn't be possible greatly expanded the Chinese Rights Party from a minor party from Seogwipo to a Jeju-wide phenomenon, winning many seats in the 2010 election, enough to become the third-largest party on Jeju and beginning to influence Chinese activists in Jeolla, Busan and Ulsan. She won the seat for Seogwi-dong by a surprise 66.4% of the votes, with Progressive candidate Ki-sung actually joining the party afterwards.
Representative and Opposition Leader
Becoming the to-date youngest representative on Jeju, Ruan began taking a prominent role, with the loss of many seats for the Progressive and Juche Party. The Progressive Party's local leader and leader of the Opposition, Henry Dave-Allen, criticized Ruan and her party for allowing the National Korean Front to take over on the island, which was feared by Jeju inhabitants due to the levels of racism and Korean nationalism the Front has. However, not all Progressive representatives thought so. After a session of the Assembly, several Progressive Party members changed their party allegiance to the Chinese Rights Party, leading to the Progressive Party only becoming the third-biggest party. Furious, Dave resigned as leader of the Progressives and official leader of the Opposition. Ruan quickly was sworn in and elected by her party as both party chairman, but also opposition leader.
Ruan quickly hashed out a coalition deal with the remainder Progressives, overtaking the NKF side by one seats, but the JP was ready to coalition with the NKF, and as such, the National Korean Front-Juche coalition lead the Assembly by a 1 seat lead.
During her time as Leader of the Opposition, Ruan was very adamant that the NKF not disturb any of the autonomous rules that were set up. Following a disregard for the search of a Korean assailant who raped a Chinese woman and called her a 'useless inferior woman', massive protests sparked up on Jeju, demanding either rapid action by the government or the stepping down of it. The protests succeeded, and the assailant was arrested and put in jail.
The opposition under Ruan continued to be very successful, so much in fact that when the 2012 Senate elections happened, Zheng Chen, a member of the CRP was elected as one of two senators from Jeju, the other one being from the Progressive Party. This caused a major awakening of Chinese in provinces and cities such as Jeolla, Gyeongsang, Ulsan, Busan and Daegu, with major protests demanding more rights. Ruan was invited for a first time to a rally in the mainland in Mokpo, Jeolla, where many Chinese came to live, to promote the candidate of the CRP in the region, Ma He. In 2015, she started campaigning for the post of governor of Jeju, running against unpopular incumbent Park Lee-un. Unsurprisingly, she won by 77.3% in a total landslide, with the Juche Party, already only having two seats, losing one, and the NPK losing several. Ruan Lingyu became the 6th democratically elected governor of Jeju since Doomsday.
Ruan's time as governor has been marked by a more radical opening of Jeju and a tax reform which effectively turned the already tax-low area of Jeju into an outright tax haven. She has modernized the economy and established trade links with Jiangsu and Taiwan, visiting Rizhao, the city from which she escaped from China. Due to this special relationship, Jeju has made a big investment in the ports of Lianyungang and Rizhao, expanding the facilities in order to increase shippings of rice, and Jeju has started importing cheap rice from Jiangsu. This action has angered farmers from Jeolla, and has lead to Jeolla electing their first NKF senator for the Korean Senate since WW3.
Her approval rankings have remained steady and open, and while she receives a lot of disregard, criticism and paranoia on the mainland, her approval ratings on Jeju exceed 65%, higher than any first-term governor on Jeju since Saunders John-William.
Ruan is known to be a supporter of the free-market economy, and also a supporter of international trade, and thus, deregularization of the market. Her governorship has seen corporate taxes cut drastically and an economy booming. Recently, Hyundai has moved their main shipyard from Ulsan to Jeju, in order to have more leverage on the world stage. This is due to the partnership Hyundai has undertaken with the Jeju Assembly under Ruan's rule as governor.
Ruan is currently supporting the creation of a form of Jeju-wide healthcare insurance, but as of right now, only limited private healthcare insurance exists.
Ruan has been a fervent supporter of multilingual education and the expansion of the public education sector. She has increased the spending for education to 15%. She has also campaigned for Chinese-language schools on mainland Korea, particularely Jeolla and Busan, areas with a sizable minority of Chinese.
Energy and environment
Ruan has been focused on expanding energy for Jeju, as Jeju and Korea in general are in an energy crisis. Plans to create a coal plant and to import coal from the region have been set up by her government.
Her policy on enviroment consists of creating protection for beautiful, tourist-friendly region, while otherwise no enviromental policies have been implemented. This has drawn the criticism of enviromentalists.
Ruan is an avid supporter of immigration from the rest of Korea, as well as former China, Japan and investors from the Philippines, CANZ and Singapore, but the federal government issued limitations to immigrants from Japan and Chinese survivor states. These move have been criticized by Ruan as 'deeply racist' and 'the result of an NFK government'.
LGBT rights have been acknowledged by Ruan , but it isn't a major part of her platform. The CRP is in favour of same-sex relationships and civil unions, but opposes same-sex marriage. However, most LGBT people on Jeju support Ruan.
Ruan has lived with partner and fellow CRP member Zheng Chen since 2016 and they are still not married. They apparently fell in love in a Party meeting. It is rumoured Zheng will soon propose to her.
Religiously, Ruan has described herself as a strongly believing Wuist; she elaborates: "I have never lived in China and been able to experience Chinese culture in the homeland of my people. [Wuism] is my cultural link to my home country."
Ruan is involved in the rock venue of Jeju, teaching herself guitar during her time in Brisbane. Ruan is known to frequent rock bars in Jeju City on Wednesday nights, in order to listen and promote them. She said on this topic: "I am a thorough fan of rock music, and I believe I never could live without. And the rock scene of Jeju is one of the best in the world, influenced by both Dunedin distort and Brisbane punk. A good venue waiting to become big."
In 2017, Ruan published a memoir entitled Living on a War-Torn Island, which details stories from her infancy, from what she and her father remember from the pre-1986 anarchy of Jeju. The book has become a bestseller in the CANZ, Singapore and Korea.