SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state media have been paying close attention to the upcoming Seoul mayoral election for months, mainly attacking the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) and its candidate, an analysis by Yonhap News Agency showed Monday.
The Oct. 26 by-election was made necessary in late August after former Seoul mayor Oh Se-hoon stepped down after he failed to block an opposition-led free school lunch program in the city's first-ever referendum. The by-election pits Rep. Na Kyung-won of the GNP against Park Won-soon, an opposition-backed candidate without party affiliation.
From Aug. 26 until Monday, Rodong Shinmun, a major newspaper published by the Workers' Party, and the country's official website Uriminzokkiri have carried a total of 38 reports commenting on the mayoral race, according to Yonhap's North Korean media monitoring team.
The figure is a sharp rise from the 19 articles on the mayoralty that the North's media carried for two months before last year's June 2 local elections, it showed.
Their coverage has highlighted bribery allegations involving close aides of President Lee Myung-bak and his ruling party in an apparent attempt to undermine Na, who is running a tight race against the opposition candidate.
In a Monday dispatch, Uriminzokkiri reported on an ongoing investigation into a pro-Pyongyang civic group in connection with violation of the National Security Law, accusing the "conservative authority" of trying to split the unified opposition camp.
"This tactic would only accelerate the GNP's downfall," it said.
On Friday alone, Uriminzokkiri carried five stories that condemned the GNP's ethical standards, describing the conservative party as "ridden with corruption" and criticizing GNP members who evaded mandatory military service.
In addition, the North's media showed favorable attitudes towards Na's rival and activist-turned-lawyer Park, describing how he beat other contenders to become the ultimate candidate in the liberal camp.
In his several books, Park had called for scrapping the National Security Law, which prohibits distribution of publications praising the North or all activities sympathetic to the communist state.
The Unification Ministry said the North's move is seen as an attempt to aggravate the ideological divide between conservative and liberal forces in the South.