Campaigns turn nasty as vote nears

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Campaigns turn nasty as vote nears


Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in

Tensions boiled over between front-running presidential candidates Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in yesterday as they publicly accused each other’s campaigns of mudslinging.

Park, the presidential candidate of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, declared war yesterday against her liberal opponent Moon’s campaign over what she called “the reckless distribution of groundless rumors.” Park arranged a press conference around 8:30 a.m., five days before the Wednesday presidential election.

“Immediately after Moon said he wouldn’t do any negative campaigning, the Democratic United Party and Moon’s camp are trying to shake up the election with their indiscriminate mudslinging,” Park said.

She said the DUP practically locked up a young female worker of the National Intelligence Service in her home by camping out in the hallway outside her door and falsely accusing her of working on a smear campaign against Moon.

“While making this unbelievable accusation, the DUP and Moon campaign just repeated that they received tips and presented no evidence,” Park said. “They first claimed that 70 people worked on the mission, but they are not talking about it anymore.”

Park said the victim voluntarily submitted her computer to the police and it is the DUP’s turn to present its evidence.

“If they cannot produce it today, I will believe that the DUP had admitted to its lie.”

“If this incident proves to be the DUP’s groundless scheme, Moon must take responsibility,” Park said, adding that the DUP should also be held accountable for violating the woman’s rights.

“They figured out where she lives through methods that are used by sexual criminals,” Park said. “And they even shared the address on the Internet. Does Moon want to protect the human rights of his supporters only? What will happen to the country if these people win the election?”

Park also listed the DUP’s accusations toward her, calling them all groundless.

“They attacked me for cheating during a TV debate by calling my 10-year-old handbag an iPad,” Park said. “I want to ask them if that is even possible during a live TV broadcast.”

Park also criticized the Moon supporters for accusing her of having spent a fortune on a shamanic ceremony by doctoring a photo of a memorial service for her late mother.

Park also said the DUP and Moon campaign claimed that she had a 20-year-old tie with a religious cult with which she actually has no relationship.

“A novelist who has 500,000 followers [on Twitter] even spread a rumor that I paid 500 million won [$467,447] to a polling company,” Park said, referring to Gong Ji-young, who retweeted a message that Park had paid the poll service Realmeter to fabricate survey outcomes. The novelist Gong is a mentor of the Moon campaign, and she later apologized for posting the message and removed it.

“Starting today, I declare a war against political mudslinging,” Park said. “I will fight sternly to make sure that dark political maneuvers and false accusations will never return to this country. I will make sure that no groundless slander will go unpunished.”

She then apologized for one of her campaigner’s vulgar remarks labeling Moon’s ally Ahn Cheol-soo a traitor who deserves to die.

Park, however, did not mention the National Election Commission’s latest investigation into the alleged illegal campaigning of the Saenuri Party.

As Park declared war against smear campaigns, Moon called the press conference a cover-up of the probe into her party’s illegal campaigning activity.

“An illegal campaign office of the Saenuri Party that manipulates Internet opinion was discovered by the National Election Commission,” Moon said during his stumping in Geoje, South Gyeongsang. “The commission pressed charges against eight people.”

Calling the case “just the tip of the iceberg,” Moon criticized Park for having the press conference to water down a bigger scandal.

“She is the most powerful person of the ruling party and the presidential front-runner,” Moon said. “Is she giving guidelines to the law enforcement authority about an on-going investigation? Is she saying that the case should be just closed without a probe?”

Moon, then, said she wants Park to wait for the prosecution’s investigation into the alleged intervention of the National Intelligence Service in the presidential election and to come clean about operating the illegal campaign office.

Officials of the two campaigns also engaged in fierce battles.

“The NIS didn’t intervene in the election,” said Lee Jung-hyun, chief public affairs officer of the Park campaign. “It was a lie from the Moon campaign.”

The Saenuri Party also said it won’t fall for another smear campaign of the opponent, vowing to take all necessary legal action.

“We will go after malicious slander till the end to prevent another Kim Dae-eop case,” said Kwon Young-se, a senior director of the Park campaign.

Kwon was referring to the draft-dodging accusation raised by Kim against a son of Lee Hoi-chang, then presidential candidate of the Grand National Party, before the 2002 election. The allegation was later investigated and ruled groundless, while Lee was defeated by Roh Moo-hyun. The GNP is the predecessor of the Saenuri Party.

The DUP spokesmen also attacked the Park campaign for trying to manipulate public opinion through illegal means.

“Making an organized effort to deceive the public is a grave crime,” said Park Yong-jin, spokesman of the Moon campaign. “

By Ser Myo-ja []
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