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Ex-prosecutor and social activist joins Dec. race

As prosecutor, activist and government commissioner, Kang Ji-won has devoted himself to fighting social evils from sex crimes and child abuse, to drug and game addictions.

The hyperactive social crusader is moving his campaign to politics, declaring on Tuesday that he will be running in the presidential election in December.

Kang Ji-won (Yonhap News)

Kang Ji-won (Yonhap News)

The 62-year-old has little apparent political or social influence compared to other presidential hopefuls, but he says he hopes to bring about “political reform” by running.

“I will run in the 18th presidential election as Korea’s first manifesto-candidate,” Kang said in a video declaring his intentions.

“I have been working day and night for political reform in Korea. I am burning with a passion to clear the muddy waters of politics before I die.”

While he has spent most of his professional life as a public prosecutor until 2002, he has been involved in political reform movement particularly the way election candidates promote their policies and how the voters make their decisions.

Kang co-founded the Korea Manifesto Center in 2006 and is currently serving as its chairman.

As the name suggests, the center’s main objective is to establish political manifestos as an integral part of the country’s elections.

In addition to the center, he currently heads a division of the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion, and served as a co-chief of a prime ministerial commission on preventing the sex trade and heads a suicide prevention committee.

However, his is a much better known name in social activism, particularly in fields concerning young people.

Since the late 1980s when he served as the chief of the Seoul Probation Office, he has dedicated much of his time to providing protection and guidance to youths. From 1997 to 2000, he served as the youth protection commission’s inaugural chief, before going on to head a body dedicated to supporting youths’ rights earning himself the nickname “youth protector.”

Ahead of his announcement, his wife Kim Young-ran, chief of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, offered to step down in a meeting with Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik on Monday.

By Choi He-suk