In Gyeonggi education race, liberal takes lead

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In Gyeonggi education race, liberal takes lead

Liberal and conservative candidates for top education posts were in tight races yesterday, and the major posts in the Seoul and Gyeonggi regions saw liberal candidates in the lead, according to an exit poll by Korea’s three major broadcasters.

Among 16 education superintendent posts contested, the exit poll showed conservative candidates expected to win seven, with liberal candidates leading in four. Five races, including North Jeolla (where the top two candidates were liberals), were neck-and-neck with margins of five percentage points or less.

The people elected to these posts will have a huge influence over education policies for the next four years. Unlike candidates in other local races, education candidates have to campaign independently without support from political parties.

Kwak No-hyun, the sole liberal candidate among seven contestants for the Seoul education superintendent position, was ahead with 37 percent, while his main rival, conservative candidate Lee Won-hee, got 33 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll.

Kwak, a presidential adviser under the late President Roh Moo-hyun and a professor at Korea National Open University, vowed to provide free meals for all students and reduce the student-teacher ratio per classroom to 25 to 1. Regarding the political activities of teachers who are members of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers’ Union, Kwak said it wasn’t fair for the Education Ministry to have decided on disciplinary action and dismissals.

In Gyeonggi, the incumbent education superintendent, liberal candidate Kim Sang-kon, had a big lead backed by 46 percent of voters in the exit poll, while Cheong Jean-gon, senior secretary of education, science and culture policy at the Blue House, followed with 26 percent.

By Cho Jae-eun []
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