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Leading candidates kick off regional rallies in swing region, ruling bloc stronghold

Yoon Seok-youl (center), the presidential nominee of the main opposition People Power Party speaks at the first regular meeting of the party’s election committee in Seoul on Monday. (PPP)
Yoon Seok-youl (center), the presidential nominee of the main opposition People Power Party speaks at the first regular meeting of the party’s election committee in Seoul on Monday. (PPP)
Presidential contenders pushed for support in the provinces Monday, with the opposition candidate visiting a key swing region and the ruling party candidate staying in a party stronghold.

Yoon Seok-youl of the main opposition People Power Party chose the Chungcheong provinces as his first campaign destination after the formation of his election committee.

“I am a son of Chungcheong and I can say Chungcheong is my hometown,” Yoon said before departing, speaking at the election committee’s first regular meeting in Seoul. Yoon was born in Seoul, but his father -- Yoon Ki-joong, a professor emeritus of Yonsei University’s Department of Statistics -- is from Gongju, South Chungcheong Province. Korean politicians often accentuate their ties to certain regions to appeal to voters there.

“Historically, Chungcheong has always been the region holding the casting vote, and the battleground in presidential elections. I would like to kick off the D-100 count of my journey for victory, by sending up the flare for regime change in Chungcheong, the province in the center of the country.” D-100 refers to the 100-day mark before the March 9 election, which was Monday.

The party said the three-day trip was intended to deliver Yoon’s vision for “balanced development and future growth.”

On Monday, Yoon visited the Milmaru Observatory in Sejong, a metropolitan city in the Chungcheong region that is home to most government ministries, and talked about his regional development plans.

There, he spoke of the need to build more infrastructure and to come up with systems to support the ongoing discussion of relocating government entities, including the National Assembly.

He also said he would prepare the legal framework to build a second presidential office in the administrative capital.

Afterward, he was to move to the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in Daejeon, the region’s biggest city, where he would talk about scrapping the Moon Jae-in administration’s nuclear phaseout policy. Yoon is critical of the liberal government’s plan to break away from nuclear energy, as he believes it is an important energy source that can support the country’s carbon-neutral goals.

Later in the afternoon, Yoon was to host a talk show dubbed “With Seok-youl,” with voters in their 20s and 30s.

On Tuesday Yoon will travel to Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, and then on Wednesday he will move on to Cheonan and Asan, both in South Chungcheong Province, according to the opposition party.

The standing chairman for Yoon’s election campaign committee, Kim Byong-joon, would accompany Yoon on the trip, the party said. As Yoon is struggling to recruit veteran campaigner Kim Chong-in, Kim Byong-joon has become the de facto commander of the election committee for the conservative party candidate. The current party chief, Lee Jun-seok, who is the co-standing chairman, has said he would entrust things to Kim.

Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party speaks at the his nationwide election committee in Gwangju on Monday. (Yonhap)
Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party speaks at the his nationwide election committee in Gwangju on Monday. (Yonhap)
Meanwhile, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party continued his campaign in Gwangju, vowing to become an “economy first” president, wrapping up his five-day trip to the liberal stronghold Honam region. Honam encompasses Gwangju, South Jeolla Province and North Jeolla Province.

“From now on, my only goal is to become an ‘economy president.’ I will concentrate all my ability to fill in people’s wallets and for the economic growth of the country,” Lee said at the nationwide election committee meeting in Gwangju.

Lee also spoke with university students in Gwangju to discuss youth issues, before visiting a traditional market in Younggwang County, South Jeolla Province.

In a local poll by Realmeter on Monday, Yoon stood ahead of Lee, garnering an approval rating of 46.3 percent from 3,023 respondents. Lee’s approval rating stood at 36.9 percent. In distant third place was Ahn Cheol-soo, representing the minor opposition People’s Party with 3.7 percent, and Sim Sang-jung of the progressive Justice Party was next with 3.3 percent.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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