Chung of the ruling Saenuri Party focused on the issue of pesticide in school meals during the debate as part of his 11th-hour efforts to narrow Park’s lead before the June 4 elections.
Park countered by claiming that Chung’s election campaigns focused too much on attacking his opponent rather than focusing on real issues affecting the livelihoods of Seoul citizens.
|Saenuri Party Seoul mayor candidate Chung Mong-joon shakes hands with commuters in Seoul on Tuesday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
|Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon talks with voters to drum up support in southern Seoul on Tuesday.|
The incumbent Mayor Park of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy led Chung by 13 percentage points or more in three surveys conducted last week.
“Mr. Park, according to the auditing reports, the Seoul municipal government knew at least since last year there were leftover pesticides in the school meals being served to students,” Chung said on MBC Radio Tuesday morning.
The Board of Audit and Inspection never notified the mayor’s office, Park said in response. “If the BAI did not feel compelled to ask us to rectify the issue, I am relatively assured that authorities were content that pesticides did not pose a safety threat,” he said. Park claimed the report itself was written after he filed a formal auditing request to the BAI.
“Pesticides never contaminated our student’s meals en masse as Mr. Chung says.”
Chung argued back that not knowing about the pesticides was still not an excuse.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Chung’s campaign team accused Kang Nan-hee, Park’s wife, of having attended Yoo Dae-kyun’s restaurant as a main guest “on multiple occasions.” Yoo is wanted by prosecutors as a suspect in the ongoing Sewol investigations, which is a large influencer in this year’s Seoul mayoral race.
Park’s spokesperson Rep. Jin Sung-joon of the NPAD repudiated the claims and threatened legal action for spreading false rumors about an opposing candidate during elections.
“We have reached our limit. Unwarranted personal attacks will be met by legal actions,” Jin said.
Saenuri candidate Chung’s approval rating began to collapse after the April 16 disaster while Park’s support rating firmed up. Chung’s ratings fell to as low as 31.3 percent in one survey conducted by the Hankyoreh, a left-leaning local daily, last week.
Chung’s ratings have not gone above 40 percent since the Sewol sinking left more than 300 dead or missing.
Park holds a 48.7 percent voter support rating in a survey conducted last week by national broadcasters MBC and SBS. Chung scored 34.9 percent in the same poll.
The race for Seoul City Hall is considered the most important local election, with the mayor of the nation’s capital considered a potential presidential hopeful.
Former President Lee Myung-bak served as Seoul mayor from 2002 to 2006 before his service at Cheong Wa Dae.
By Jeong Hunny (firstname.lastname@example.org)