Kim Chong-in joins minor moderates in presidential race

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Apr 5, 2017 - 15:33
  • Updated : Apr 5, 2017 - 17:30

Kim Jong-in, former interim leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, announced his presidential bid Wednesday, joining a growing group of middle-of-the-road candidates in a country long divided by the traditional left-right rivalry.

The country can only be “set right” by an integrated government that brings together people of varying political stance, Kim said, adding that he is the right man for the job.

“As the best mediator who encompasses many political factions, (I) will stabilize the country and make the people comfortable,” Kim said.

Kim Jong-in, former interim leader of the Democratic Party of Korea (Yonhap)

During the 2012 presidential election, Kim served as an adviser to former conservative President Park Geun-hye. He then went on to serve as the interim leader of the liberal Democratic Party.

Kim also pledged to revise the Constitution by May 2020 and said that the presidency will be reformed.

“Along with the former president, ‘imperial presidency’ has been incarcerated. The system must be buried,” he said, adding that imperial presidency must be addressed for the country’s media and prosecutors to properly serve their roles.

“The next government will band together (with different factions) and gather sufficient parliamentary seats to enable all kinds of reform.”

Kim says that he aims to be the leader of the new style of government that brings opposing political factions together, however, his announcement came in the wake of negative predictions and a call to join forces with Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo.

Former Democratic Party lawmaker Jung Chung-rae wrote on social media that Kim will not complete the race, saying that the bid was a ploy to support another candidate.

Former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan (L) and Hong Seok-hyun (Yonhap)

In a radio interview earlier in the day, Rep. Kim Kyung-jin of Ahn Cheol-soo’s People’s Party called on Kim and other supposedly centrist hopefuls, including former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan and Hong Seok-hyun, to declare support for Ahn. Hong is a former chairman of the conservative daily Joongang Ilbo and the brother of Hong Ra-hee, who is Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s wife.

“I would like to ask (Chung, Hong and Kim) to join the party and help Ahn, who is a likely candidate,” Kim Kyung-jin said.

“On a national level, they are all valuable people. (An alliance among the three) would not be meaningful.”

While none of the three are widely expected to see their campaigns through to the end, they represent an unusually large representation of moderates in South Korea’s presidential race.

Of these, Ahn is in the lead, with some polls showing his support ratings to be over 30 percent. In comparison, the front-runner Moon’s figures range just under 40 percent.

Kim Chong-in and Chung have little support to speak of, while Hong has yet to make his bid official.

However, Chung -- who served as prime minister during the Lee Myung-bak administration -- said Monday that he has agreed with Kim Chong-in and Hong to form an alliance. He also said that their alliance could include established parties. According to Chung, the Bareun Party rejected his conditions and the Liberty Korea Party had very different ideas.

By Choi He-suk (