Park Geun-hye, daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, was slightly ahead of Ahn Cheol-soo, software magnate and popular professor, in a new opinion poll of potential candidates for the December presidential vote, the poll showed Monday.
Park, a former head of the ruling Saenuri Party, received 45.8 percent of support, compared with 43.8 percent for Ahn, in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up for the presidential election, according to the survey of 1,000 adults conducted by private polling agency Hangil Research.
Commissioned by local cable TV channel MBN, the survey was conducted between June 22 and 23. It has an error margin of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The survey results showed Park and Ahn were "running neck and neck within the error margin," it said.
Neither Park nor Ahn have officially announced their presidential bids, although Park is expected to soon throw her hat in the ring.
Ahn, founder of anti-computer virus firm AhnLab who currently teaches at the Seoul National University's Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, has no experience in politics, but is widely popular among young Koreans.
Political analysts have attributed Ahn's popularity to his clean and upright image.
In a similar match-up between Park and Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party, the poll showed that Park received 51.3 percent, while Moon gained 39.9 percent.
Moon, a longtime aide to the late president Roh Moo-hyun, officially announced his presidential bid early this month.
President Lee Myung-bak's five-year term ends next February and Lee is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term. (Yonhap News)