With the clock ticking for this year’s earlier-than-expected presidential election, a minority left-wing party leader, Sim Sang-jeung, and former Prime Minister Chung Woon-chan declared their candidacy Thursday.
Other presidential hopefuls are expected to follow their lead before or after Lunar New Year’s Day on Jan. 28.
The upcoming presidential election could take place sooner than the scheduled date in December, depending on the outcome of the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye. Park was impeached by the National Assembly on Dec. 9 last year on allegations that she allowed her confidante Choi Soon-sil to meddle in state affairs and abused her authority. If the Constitutional Court finalizes her ouster, the nation has to elect a new leader within two months.
Justice Party chief Sim, who might be the only woman contender this season, vowed to promote laborers’ rights and cut out the monopoly economy system in the country.
“I will participate in this election to make a happy society where one gets what they deserve for their work,” the 57-year-old said at a press conference at the National Assembly on Thursday.
The minority Justice Party chief Sim Sang-jeung declares her candidacy for the upcoming presidential election on Thursday (Yonhap)
Graduating from the nation’s top Seoul National University in 1983, she went on to work as a cloth factory worker at Guro Industrial Complex. She was a civic labor activist before entering politics in 2003 as a proportional representative for the then Democratic Labor Party, which joined the Unified Progressive Party that later dissolved in 2014.
“To solve inequality, I propose a ‘Great Compression Plan,’ which imposes some burdens on the top 1 percent (of the country),” she explained.
Another presidential hopeful, former Prime Minister Chung Woon-chan announced his run in the presidential race at a press conference for the publication of his book “Direction for South Korea, Co-Developing is the Answer” on the same day.
Chung stressed that it is time for comprehensive reform in the country, highlighting his five “Co-developing policies,” which seeks reforms in the fields of economy, welfare, education, reunification of the two Koreas and politics.
Chung served as prime minister from 2009 to 2010 under the Lee Myung-bak administration.
Rhee In-je, a former supreme representative of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, declared his candidacy earlier on Sunday.
South Chungcheong Gov. Ahn Hee-jung is set to announce his candidacy Sunday at a theater building where he will lead a debate on his presidential pledges. Meanwhile, Seongnam city Mayor Lee Jae-myung is to follow suit Monday at a watch factory where he worked for two years from 1979.
Rep. Yoo Seong-min and Rep. Nam Kyung-pil of the conservative splinter Barun Party are to propose their runs in the presidential election Wednesday.
Seoul city Mayor Park-won will also officially take part before Lunar New Year’s Day.
Some prominent presidential candidates have not given the exact dates for the announcements of their participation in the presidential race, but are moving quickly to meet voters in their election campaign.
Moon Jae-in, a former chief of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea and a strong contender in the race, published a book “The Republic of Korea Asks. Moon Jae-in Answers,” to reveal his ideas on a number of social issues.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who returned to Korea last week after his 10-year term ended at the international body, has been maintaining a hectic schedule.
In the latest weekly poll of approval ratings released by the pollster Real Meter on Thursday, Moon topped the list with 28.1 percent, while the rating for runner-up Ban stood at 21.8 percent. Seongnam Mayor Lee followed with 9 percent and Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo of the minor People’s Party with 7.4 percent. The poll was conducted on 1,507 citizens from Monday to Wednesday.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com