Campaigning draws to close for local elections
The elections Wednesday will choose 4,125 candidates for elected posts nationwide, including mayors and governors in 17 major cities and provinces.
Seven parliamentary seats will also be up for grabs in the by-elections: Suseong District in Daegu; Gyeyang District in Incheon; Bundang District in Seongnam; Wonju in Gangwon; Seocheon County in Boryeong, South Gyeongsang; and Changwon in Jeju City.
Voting will take place from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday at 14,465 polling centers nationwide, according to the National Election Commission (NEC). People with Covid-19 or those undergoing quarantine will be allowed to vote between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
There are 44.3 million eligible voters. Over 9.13 million voters already cast ballots during a two-day early voting period last week.
There was a 20.62 percent turnout for advance voting over Friday and Saturday, the highest to date for early voters in local elections, according to the NEC. This slightly beat the early voting turnout of 20.14 percent in 2018 local elections. The total turnout in the 2018 local elections was 60.2 percent, which resulted in a major victory for the DP.
The local elections come less than two months after the March 9 presidential election that resulted in a narrow victory for the PPP's Yoon Suk-yeol over the DP's Lee Jae-myung.
Song Young-gil, former DP chairman, will be challenging Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who is seeking reelection as the PPP's Seoul mayoral candidate.
If Oh is re-elected, he will become the first person to serve a fourth term as Seoul mayor. Oh served two terms from 2006 to 2010 and returned to the post by winning a by-election in April 2021.
Song, a former mayor of Incheon from 2010 to 2014, was a fifth-term lawmaker who represented Incheon's Gyeyang-B district in the National Assembly before throwing his hat into the ring for Seoul mayor. He stepped down as DP chairman in March to take responsibility for its presidential election defeat.
Another key race is for Gyeonggi governor. The PPP's Kim Eun-hye, a former lawmaker and spokesperson for Yoon's transition committee, and the DP's Kim Dong-yeon, a former finance minister in the Moon Jae-in administration, are running neck and neck.
Lee Jae-myung, a former Gyeonggi governor, is making a quick turnaround from his March 9 presidential defeat by running for a seat in Incheon's Gyeyang-B district against the PPP's Yoon Hyung-sun, a doctor who runs an internal medicine clinic.
Ahn Cheol-soo, Yoon's transition team chairman, will run against the DP's Kim Byoung-gwan, a former lawmaker, to represent Bundang-A district in Seongnam, Gyeonggi. The software mogul-turned-politician dropped out of the March presidential race at the last minute to support Yoon and merged his People's Party with the PPP.
On Tuesday, the PPP leadership focused their final campaign efforts in Gyeonggi, North Chungcheong, Gangwon and Jeju.
PPP Chairman Lee Jun-seok visited Jeju and criticized the DP candidates' pledge to shut down Gimpo International Airport to open up development of the western Seoul metropolitan area, which has emerged as a last-minute hot potato issue in the elections.
Lee Jae-myung and Song Young-gil recently pledged to "relocate" the Gimpo airport in order to lift development restrictions, proposing that other airports, particularly Incheon International Airport, could take over Gimpo's flights. The PPP lambasted the plan, noting that it could have detrimental effects on the Jeju tourism industry, which heavily relies on domestic flights out of Gimpo.
Kim Gi-hyeon, co-head of the PPP's election committee and former floor leader, campaigned in Gyeonggi to support governor candidate Kim Eun-hye.
The DP leadership focused campaign activities in the Chungcheong area and in Seoul on the last day. Yun Ho-jung and Park Ji-hyun, interim co-chiefs of the DP, were scheduled to campaign in Sejong, Daejeon and Seoul to support their candidates in those cities.
The DP leadership was set to wrap up their campaign activities Tuesday evening in Yongsan District, central Seoul, to support their mayor candidate Song.
The PPP hopes to ride on the coat-tails of its presidential victory, especially with President Yoon still in his "honeymoon period."
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]