The Korea Herald


[Election 2017] Candidates make last-ditch appeals

By Jo He-rim

Published : May 8, 2017 - 15:27

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On Monday, the day before Election Day, the five leading presidential candidates made their last-ditch appeals, asserting they are the only person who can safeguard national values and deliver on voters’ desires.

Front-runner Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party of Korea reiterated calls for an “overwhelming victory” that would expedite what he called a “proud current of reform and integration.”

Front-runner Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party of Korea (Yonhap) Front-runner Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party of Korea (Yonhap)

“Please open a new world with your sweeping support for me. Give me the power to change society,” Moon said at the party’s headquarter in Yeouido, Seoul, in the morning. “It is not just a mere change of administration. Each vote will add to creating a whole new world.”

The 64-year-old candidate showed confidence that he is capable of tackling pressing issues including national security and a sluggish economy, in partnership with other parties, despite the backbiting throughout the campaign period.

“I will visit every party headquarters to ask them to join me in moving the country forward. I will neatly resolve the diplomatic and security issues together with the four major powers around the peninsula while creating lots of jobs to revive the economy,” he said, before moving to the southern port city of Busan for a rally, followed by stops at Daegu, Cheongju and Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul.

Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party (Yonhap) Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party (Yonhap)

Runner-up Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party was also adamant that his victory would open an era of “new politics” -- just like the French who picked as their next leader political novice Emmanuel Macron, who has pledged to clean up and return the morals of politics.

“French citizens have chosen to break away from the old, tedious party frames and chose a fresh change, and so will the citizens of Korea. Through tomorrow’s voting, you will choose a young challenger, Ahn Cheol-soo,” he said at a separate news conference.

The candidate, who has been on a five-day walking tour campaign, started his day early at 5:30 a.m. to greet citizens at a traditional market in Seoul. He was then set to participate in a Parent’s Day event and continue with outdoor canvassing in Seoul, Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province, before reaching his final destination in Daejeon.

Conservative Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party (Yonhap) Conservative Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party (Yonhap)

Conservative Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party gave his final speech in Busan in the morning before moving on to visit Daegu, the Chungcheong provinces and Seoul.

“I have created a miracle and history during the past 21 days (of electioneering),” Hong said. “I will protect the nation from those pro-North Korean leftists deciding on North Korean policies and labor unions taking control of economic policies. I will rebuild Korea, which the liberal faction has ruined.”

He then appealed to voters by saying that a “new day and a new nation will start tomorrow.”

He also hinted that he would appoint former commanding officer Park Jeong-ee as minister for national defense and former Gyeonggi Gov. Kim Moon-su as minister for employment and labor, if he is elected.

Progressive candidate Sim Sang-jeung was another contender who compared herself to French President-elect Macron in her final speech Monday.

“The presidential election in France clearly showed what democracy is,” she said. “The French citizens gave a chance to Macron, a candidate from a new party that has not yet secured even one parliamentary seat.”

As a candidate from the minor progressive Justice Party, which holds six seats at the National Assembly, she asked for votes “to carry on bold reforms for a new South Korea.”

For her last electioneering move, Sim planned an unprecedented outdoor canvassing event, staging a speech marathon that was to last for 12 hours in Sinchon, Seoul.

Meanwhile, Yoo Seong-min of the conservative splinter Bareun Party stressed that real “democracy is truly realized” when votes are made “sincerely.”

“Dead votes are made when one casts a ballot against their beliefs, in fear that their vote does not make a winner,” Yoo said after a meeting with university students in Daejeon. “While the election period was too short to show the real worth of candidates, I promise that I will show you politics that meet your expectations.”

By Jo He-rim (