SEOUL: So much for change. With the results of South Korea's general elections finally in, regional voting patterns again were the dominant force in deciding the winners. Even a casual glance at the results will confirm that South Korea has again failed to pull itself free of the all-persuasive tangle of regional loyalties. As expected, President Kim Young-sam's ruling New Korea Party grabbed all 21 seats in Mr Kim's stronghold of Pusan. Opposition leader Kim Dae-jun led his National Congress for New Politics to a conclusive victory in his little part of the kingdom: Cholla province. The minor opposition United Liberal Democrats, led by Kim Jong-pil, former protege of strongman Park Chung-hee, swept the board in their power bases of Chunchong-pukto and Chungchun-namdo. Confounding the pundits, the New Korea Party scored a major victory in Seoul, where opposition politicians usually hold sway. However, the ruling party failed to gain an absolute majority, winning 139 seats out of the 244 up for grabs. New Korea Party sources say they are confident of support from the 16 independent members. This political horse trading is an accepted part of the Korean political scene. Campaign promises are usually the first to be ditched when the call comes from the ruling party. The results have erased fears that Mr Kim Young-sam could have become a lame-duck president and that his much-vaunted economic and political reform drive would grind to a halt. All eyes are now focused on who will be the ruling party's candidate for the presidential elections due in 1997. Likely candidates include the New Korea Party's chief campaign manager Lee Hoi-chang and his deputy Park Chang-jong.