The incumbent Ahn is set for a second term ending in 2018. Turnout was 55.7 percent in a province of 1.6 million voters, according to the National Election Commission.
Results failed to contradict election forecasts, disappointing conservatives who had hoped hidden Saenuri voters would lead a turnaround at the polls.
Ahn comfortably had led Chung 45.3 percent to 30.4 in a voter survey conducted last week by national broadcasters MBC and SBS.
With Chung being a well-known President Park Geun-hye supporter, analysts had projected the Sewol accident would put the Saenuri candidate at a disadvantage in the South Chungcheong race as local elections are widely considered a national confidence vote on the president. Park’s approval ratings had fallen from 61 percent before the April 16 disaster to 47 percent as of late May, according to Gallup Korea.
Ahn’s victory continues a story of political resurgence. The aide to the late President Roh Moo-hyun had gone to jail in late 2003 for accepting illegal political funds during the 2002 presidential elections.
After a year in prison, the Korea University graduate abstained from holding political office during President Roh’s administration, saying he did not want to bring unnecessary criticism to the administration. Ahn began his rally back into the political arena by winning South Chungcheong’s governorship in the 2010 local elections.
By Jeong Hunny (firstname.lastname@example.org)