Official start of important face-off

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Official start of important face-off

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Campaigning for the April 27 by-election officially began yesterday as major political parties prepared for an important face-off that could help determine public support ahead of next year’s legislative and presidential elections.

According to the National Election Commission, 135 candidates have registered to run in 38 elections nationwide to fill up vacancies in the National Assembly, local governments and councils.

The Gangwon gubernatorial race and legislative by-elections in the Bundang B District of Gyeonggi, Gimhae B District of South Gyeongsang and Suncheon of South Jeolla have gained the most attention so far.

The leadership of the ruling Grand National and opposition Democratic parties headed to Gangwon yesterday to back their candidates. Both parties have fielded both Gangwon natives and former MBC presidents to woo the voters. Ahn Sang-soo, the GNP chairman, began his three-day tour of the region yesterday to meet with voters, while the DP said its floor leader, Park Jie-won, led a major campaign event in Chuncheon, backed by the leaders of minor liberal parties, including the Democratic Labor and People’s Participation parties.

In the Bundang B District, Kang Jae-sup, former GNP chairman, addressed voters as 54 lawmakers joined the campaign to demonstrate the ruling party’s efforts. “We must end the leftists’ populism for health development in Korea,” Kang said.

In contrast, Sohn Hak-kyu, the DP chairman, campaigned alone to have more personal meetings with voters.

“There is strong resistance from some people who do not want change, but it is undeniable that the wave of earnest desire for a new country has peaked,” Sohn said. “It is time for Korea to change, and I need Bundang voters’ support.”

In Gimhae, Lee Bong-su of the People’s Participation Party tried to persuade Roh Moo-hyun loyalists in the late president’s hometown. Stressing his ties and affection for Roh, Lee urged voters to remember that he was backed by liberal political parties, including the DP. Kim Tae-ho of the GNP, however, used a very different strategy by campaigning alone, without the massive ruling party’s backing.

“I don’t think it will be effective to rely on the party leadership’s support because I need to move the people’s hearts with genuine attitude self-reflection,” Kim said.

President Lee Myung-bak nominated Kim as the prime minister last year, but Kim was forced to bow out after lawmakers grilled him over corruption allegations.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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