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[EDITORIALS]December blizzard of mud

Dec 16,2002
The presidential election campaigns are so heated no one can predict the outcome. The mudslinging between the two major candidates is also torrid. To date, slander, dirt-throwing and negative campaigning between the two camps have swirled all over the Internet. Over the weekend, offline, campaign leaflets were indiscriminately dispersed nationwide.

At Saturday's candlelight vigil held in downtown Seoul to protest the deaths of two girls run over by a U.S. military vehicle, more than 50,000 leaflets vilifying Lee Hoi-chang, standard-bearer of the Grand National Party, were distributed. The GNP says that several million leaflets have peppered the nation. It accuses the police and the National Election Commission of negligence. The Millennium Democratic Party likewise is blasting the GNP over negative campaigning against Roh Moo-hyun, its presidential candidate.

The central election watchdog has referred only 11 cases of smear campaigning to the prosecution for inquiry. Nevertheless, candidates clearly cannot win voter support by launching base and crude broadsides. It may well backfire, costing them undecided voters.

The two campaign headquarters should stop their offensives and set an example by halting dirt-throwing, which triggers animosity. For example, a GNP ad in major newspapers depicts Mr. Roh as a "unpredictable candidate, dangerous for Seoul." It refers to Mr. Roh's campaign pledge to move the capital city to Chungcheong province. And it provocatively quotes a comment by Mr. Roh: "Let's send things that are boisterous, bickering and money-losing to Chungcheong province."

The MDP has pledged not to launch personal attacks. But when the GNP made allegations tying Mr. Roh's aides to kickbacks concerning Nara Finance, the MDP referred to apartments owned by Mr. Lee's sons.

Voters are sick and tired of the dirt, the mud and the smears marking the countdown to Election Day. We depend on mature voters to choose the right person for the Blue House.



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