Candidates hit campaign trail to drum up support
Since the June 4 local elections gave mixed results to both parties, the by-elections on July 30 can serve as a key barometer for President Park Geun-hye, who has suffered from declining approval ratings since the Sewol ferry disaster and a series of ill-fated appointments.
The ruling Saenuri Party sought to conjure up the image of “a hardworking administrator” during its campaign, while the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy called for punishment to be meted out over the government’s poor response to the Sewol ferry disaster.
Among the 15 parliamentary seats up for grabs, some of the most highly contested include Suwon and Dongjak B District in Seoul.
The heads of the two parties visited those swing regions yesterday.
Kim Moo-sung, the newly elected chairman of the Saenuri Party, joined an election campaign in Dongjak B District in order to show his support for the party’s nominee Na Kyung-won.
Na pledged to move the office of the Republic of Korea Defense Intelligence Command to a new location to make Gangnam’s main boulevard, Teheran-ro, more easily accessible.
“People in Dongjak District are cut off from Teheran-ro, which is the main street in Gangnam District,” said Na yesterday during a campaign stop at Sadang Market.
“After moving the Defense Intelligence Command, I will establish a tunnel that will take Dongjak people directly to the bustling commercial area of Gangnam.”
The chairman said that to make the project possible, Na would need active cooperation from the ruling party.
Ki Dong-min of the NPAD, a former deputy Seoul mayor and a close aide to Mayor Park Won-soon, was out campaigning on a platform focused on a set of real estate policies aimed at stabilizing skyrocketing rent fees.
Ki also reiterated that if elected he would be able to work smoothly with the current mayor to carry out his campaign pledges.
“I have hands-on administrative experience with Mayor Park Won-soon,” he said.
Dongjak B District is the only seat being contested in the capital city for the July 30 by-elections. Located in southwestern Seoul, the constituency is known to be a swing area, though Chung Mong-joon of the Saenuri Party won the seat in the past two elections, in 2008 and 2012.
Chung gave up his seat in Dongjak B to run in this year’s mayoral race.
The co-chairmen of the NPAD visited Suwon, another key area, in which three seats are being contested.
The chairmen said that the public should punish the ruling party and President Park for the poor handling of the ferry disaster.
“This election is pitting those determined to unveil the truth behind the ferry disaster against those who want to conceal the truth,” Ahn Cheol-soo, the co-chairman of the NPAD, said at Suwon Station yesterday.
In Suwon, a highly watched race is for Suwon C District, in which former opposition party leader Sohn Hak-kyu is running against lawyer Kim Yong-nam, who was fielded by the Saenuri.
Ahn said that the opposition party will consider its performance to be good if it manages to maintain the status quo by winning five races.
The Saenuri hopes to win a majority by securing at least four seats. It currently has 147 seats out of 300 seats at the National Assembly.
In the by-elections, a total of 55 candidates will vie for 15 seats.
BY PARK EUN-JEE [email@example.com]