Candidates for Assembly starting their campaigns

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Candidates for Assembly starting their campaigns

The race for the National Assembly kicked off yesterday as candidates around the nation began registering themselves, kicking off their campaigns and fund-raising activities.

The National Election Commission said yesterday it began receiving preliminary applications from candidates for the April 11 legislative election.

In registering, candidates are required to deposit 3 million won ($2,600) and submit documents to prove their family history, school history and criminal record. Incumbent heads of local governments wanting to run for the National Assembly were required to step down from their posts yesterday. Five local government heads resigned yesterday.

After registration, a candidate can open a campaign office and hire up to three staffers. Limited campaign activities such as sending e-mails, text messages and making phone calls, are allowed. A registered candidate is also allowed to raise up to 150 million won. Donors may provide up to 5 million won for each campaign.

According to sources, key aides to President Lee Myung-bak are preparing for their bids.

Former lawmakers Chung Jin-suk and Park Heong-joon, who both served as Lee’s senior political affairs secretaries, are running from their former electoral districts. Lee Dong-kwan, former senior secretary for public relations, has also revealed his intention to run.

Blue House aides working in public affairs, including Lee Sang-hui and Kim Hyeong-jun, also tendered their resignations earlier this month to prepare for their campaigns. Former spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung also said she would run.

Although Yim Tae-hee, former Blue House chief of staff, has remained tight-lipped about his next step, speculation continued that he would run. Yim, a former Grand National Party representative who won three terms in the strategic Bundang district of Gyeonggi, gave up his seat to serve Lee as presidential chief of staff in July 2010. He left the Blue House when Lee carried out a reshuffle on Sunday.

Former Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Park Young-joon and Chung Woon-chun, former minister of food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, are also preparing to run.

From the liberal side, sources said, several allies of the late President Roh Moo-hyun are going to run: Moon Jae-in, head of the Roh Moo-hyun Foundation, Moon Sung-keun, actor-turned-activist, and Kim Gyeong-su, former secretary to Roh.

By Ser Myo-ja []
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