Former finance minister announces bid for presidency as independent
Former Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon officially announced Wednesday he will run as an independent candidate in the presidential election next March, comparing his campaign to a "political start-up."
Kim said in a prerecorded speech on his YouTube channel posted Wednesday morning, "I will become a presidential candidate for the people, not for any ideological camp, and the economy, not for politics."
As he doesn't belong to a political party, Kim said he has no organization, money or power supporting him but that he will launch a start-up "that replaces existing power in the political arena."
He envisioned Korea becoming a "republic of opportunities" from the current "republic of the privileged."
Kim stressed the need for a so-called political "third zone," claiming that "conservatives and progressives both lack the will and ability," and stressed the need to break the current mold of bipartisanship.
A career bureaucrat, Kim served as President Moon Jae-in's first minister of economy and finance and deputy prime minister for the economy from May 2017 to December 2018. At the time, Kim reportedly clashed with then-Blue House senior policy adviser Jang Ha-sung over the administration's income-led growth policy, and both posts were replaced by Moon.
Kim in his speech revealed his vision of making Korea a "start-up paradise."
"Our livelihood is at a crossroads of life and death, and the preparation for the future is insufficient, but the political authorities are fighting only for power," said Kim.
"I will create a republic of opportunity by eliminating vested interests so that young people can use their capabilities to the fullest without the fear of taking on challenges," he said. "We need to make sure that market capital flows to ventures, not real estate."
He added that "in order for start-ups to flourish in all sectors of the economy and society, various regulations must be eliminated."
A native of Eumseong, North Chungcheong, Kim is known as being a self-made man who overcame difficulties growing up in a shantytown and becoming the breadwinner for his family at the age of 17.
Kim graduated a vocational high school and attended an evening college while working to support his widowed mother and three siblings at the Seoul Trust Bank. He later passed the civil service examination at the age of 25.
He said he was "jealous" of the students who could take part in the democratization movement in the 1980s, recalling that during that era, he had been too busy getting by, working to earn a living.
"I was too busy to live, so I couldn't even think to go to the hospital even if I was starved or got sick," he said, showing he has empathy for the poor and the less educated.
Kim has been recognized as a top government official respected in political circles, academia and industry for his crisis management ability.
Before becoming Moon's finance minister, Kim served as president of Ajou University.
Kim has also previously served as a presidential aide and a second vice finance minister under the Lee Myung-bak administration and a minister for government policy coordination under the Park Geun-hye government.
He also referred to his relationship with late President Roh Moo-hyun, sharing his experience creating the "Vision 2030," the administration's long-term economic master plan.
Kim pledged to amend the Constitution to scale down the power and authority of the presidency and limit lawmakers from serving consecutive terms.
"The Constitution, which has remained unmoved for 35 years, needs to be changed," said Kim, calling to strengthen citizen control by limiting the reappointment of members of the National Assembly.
Kim holds a bachelor in law from Seokyeong University, masters' degrees in administration from both Seoul National University and the University of Michigan and a doctorate degree in administration from the University of Michigan.
Kim joins two other high-ranking officials from the Moon administration, former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl and former head of the Board of Audit and Inspection Choe Jae-hyeong, as challengers to the ruling Democratic Party's presidential candidate.
In his first schedule since declaring his presidential candidacy, Kim attended a town hall meeting in Gongju, South Chungcheong, and visited a memorial in Daejeon commemorating the 46 soldiers killed in the sinking of the Cheonan warship, and the grave of Gen. Hong Beom-do, a revered Korean independence fighter, at Daejeon National Cemetery.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]