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Candidates’ All-out Efforts to Attract Voters

Posted December. 15, 2002 22:40,   


As election campaign enters the last stretch, two major candidates, Lee Hoi-chang of the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) and Roh Moo-hyun of the pro-government Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) held a news conference on Dec. 15, respectively, and hurled harsh words against each other to draw floating votes.

At the conference, Lee, a former Supreme Court justice, suggested a criterion of "stability or not" and Roh, a former civil-rights lawyers, persuaded voters on the point of "war or peace." As a result, these two issues are likely to emerge as major points of contention in the last stretch of the election campaign.

At a news conference held in the party headquarters, Lee said, "North Korea is rewarding South Korea’s unconditional aid and concessions over the past five years with its acknowledgement of a secret nuclear weapons program. Roh, who is officially pursuing President Kim Dae-jung’s "sunshine policy" of engaging North Korea, is not entitled to speak about resolving the North Korean nuclear issue." He also suggested that other candidates join in the drive to gather signatures to call on Pyongyang to stop its nuclear weapons development.

He asked for public support, decrying Roh for making a plan to relocate the capital from Seoul without any consultation with the public, which he said is like President Kim’s campaign pledge for a parliamentary cabinet system five years ago. He criticized that the MDP swallowed its words, so it is not reliable and is too radical.

On the political alliance of Roh and Chung, head of National Alliance 21, he asked, "What the president will do if Chung is in charge of unification, foreign affairs and security matters?" He argues that if the Roh-Chung coalition government comes into being, it will be hard to get to the bottom of some allegations such as provision of public fund to Hyundai, 400 million won aid to the North, and other corruption scandals.

At a news conference, meanwhile, Roh of the MDP said, "If Lee takes power, fears of war will be stoked on the Korean Peninsula and therefore, foreign investment will flow out of the nation. We cannot put the future of this country in charge of a candidate, who risks a war in an extreme situation."

He reiterated that all matters related to the communist country should be resolved through dialogue and the North Korean issues, such as abandonment of nuclear weapons program, inter-Korean economic cooperation, lifting economic sanctions on the North and guaranteeing North Korea its existence, should be settled together once and for all. However, he rejected Lee’s suggestion to gather signatures saying, "A political leader should solve the issue, rather than to avoid responsibility just by taking part in a signature-collecting campaign."

When it comes to his campaign pledge to relocate the capital, he related, "The GNP’s allegation of housing price plummeting in Seoul is groundless and through this allegation, the GNP is inciting voters against me. It is typical of old politics. Foundation works for construction of a new capital, will be completed during a new president’s term of office, but the relocation will start around 2005 and proceed gradually to minimize a possible impact on the Korean economy and society as a whole.

Yeon-Wook Jung Hyung-gwon Pu jyw11@donga.com bookum90@donga.com