Sohn Hak-kyu, former opposition leader, declared his intention to run in the Democratic United Party’s presidential primary against two heavyweights loyal to late President Roh Moo-hyun.
“People’s livelihoods and social unity are the top two priority tasks for the next president to accomplish,” said the senior advisor of the main opposition party, in a press conference at Gwangwhamun Plaza.
Sohn Hak-kyu announces his intent to run in the Democratic United Party’s presidential primary at Gwangwhamun Plaza, downtown Seoul, Thursday.(Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
The former DP chief made his speech in front of the statue of King Sejong, one of the most respected kings in Korean history.
Sohn faces tough competition from two high-profile party members ― former presidential chief of staff Rep. Moon Jae-in and South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Doo-kwan. Former DP leaders Chung Sye-kyun and Chung Dong-young are also expected to join the race.
He pledged to see the end of the rule of “outdated forces who cling onto their vested rights,” referring to the Lee Myung-bak administration and the ruling Saenuri Party.
“Korean society should now rise above industrialization and democratization, and aim at promoting welfare.”
He especially focused on employment and economic democratization.
“I will pull up the employment rate to over 70 percent by the year 2020,” he said.
“Anyone aged between 20 and 70 should be able to find a job.”
The candidate also suggested a series of reform measures to end discrimination against irregular workers and to protect small and medium-sized enterprises.
“I will continue to promote welfare programs such as tuition cuts and free child care,” he said.
The press conference was attended by some 100 liberal figures, including his loyalists Reps. Shin Hak-yong and Cho Jeong-sik.
Sohn became the second DUP member to join the primary race, following third-term Busan lawmaker Cho Kyoung-tae.
Frontrunner Moon is scheduled to make his announcement on Sunday, while competitor Kim is expected to follow suit early next month, after resigning from his governor post.
The two Chungs are thought likely to make their move by the end of the month.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com