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Minor opposition candidates level criticism at Lee, Yoon

Presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo speaks with members of South Gyeongsang Provincial Council on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo speaks with members of South Gyeongsang Provincial Council on Sunday. (Yonhap)

As the presidential election draws nearer, minor opposition candidates Ahn Cheol-soo and Sim Sang-jung are dishing out criticism against major candidates Lee Jae-myung and Yoon Suk-yeol, in apparent efforts to bring up their own support ratings.

In a meeting with his supporters Saturday, Ahn Cheol-soo, the candidate for the People’s Party, criticized the phone call scandals related to Lee and Yoon in an effort to stress his lack of a “family risk.”

“(This election) is just about phone recordings -- just long phone recordings,” Ahn said at a cafe in Jinju, South Gyeongsang Province, referring to the separate phone call scandals related to Lee and Yoon’s wife.

“Presidential candidates have to compete against each other, discussing how Korea will survive in this turbulent world with future jobs and agendas,” Ahn said. “I am the only one talking about the future.”

“For instance, though pension reform is a very important issue that Korea’s sustainability depends on, the other candidates are not saying anything,” Ahn said.

Meanwhile, Ahn drew a line on alliance rumors, saying, “(Unification) will not be possible as the head of the People Power Party (Chairman Lee Jun-seok) is strongly opposed to it,” when asked by reporters while visiting Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Sunday.

On Friday, Sim Sang-jung, the candidate from the progressive Justice Party, met with Kim Ji-eun, who was sexually assaulted by former South Chungcheong Province Gov. Ahn Hee-jung. Ahn was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison in 2020 as the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling.

Kim has been brought back to the center of attention following the revelation of a phone call recording of Kim Keon-hee, Yoon’s wife, with a reporter. On the phone call, Kim said she and her husband are “on Ahn Hee-jung’s side” and that the #MeToo scandals were because the accused did not pay the victims.

“Ahn’s sexual abuse has already been judicially judged,” Sim said. “This has been brought up again politically, rubbing salt in the wound.”

“At the time, the Democratic Party of Korea should have come up with responsible measures to look into the matter and prevent the recurrence of such incidents, instead of just expelling Ahn,” Sim said.

“This incident cannot be just limited to individual responsibility as it is a sexual abuse of power,” she said.

Sim said presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol’s wife Kim Keon-hee must apologize to the victim for her inappropriate remarks.

After the phone call recording was released, Kim made an apology of sorts in a written statement, saying she made “an inappropriate comment while criticizing some figures from the progressive camp that sexually abused others.”

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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