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"I Will Open a New Era through Dialogue and Harmony"

Posted December. 20, 2002 01:52,   


In the 16th presidential election that took place for the first time in the 21st century, Korean citizens elected Roh Moo-hyun, presidential candidate of Millennium Democratic Party, as next president over Lee Hui-chang, the presidential candidate of Grand National Party.

At the 10:30 p.m. yesterday when 84.6% of all ballots were counted, the official counting of the National Election Commission projected Roh as the next president. As of that time, Roh got 9,672,048 votes (49.8%), while Lee earned 9,255,211 (46.7%). Thus, leading the race by 416,837 votes, Roh made it certain that he would be the next president of Korea.

Roh won 10 regions over Lee, including Seoul, Inchon, Kyunggi Province, North and South Choongchong Provinces, North and South Jeolla Provinces and Cheju Province. In addition, he earned an approximately 20% supporting rate even in North and South Kyungsang Provinces, the strongholds of Lee.

Especially, residents of Jeolla Provinces gave Roh overwhelming supports with more than 90% of them voting for him. On the other hand, Lee stood out in 6 eastern regions such as North and South Kyungsang Provinces (or Youngnam region). Analyzing the supporting patterns geographically, this year`s election was a repetition of the `97 election between Lee and President Kim Dae Jung, then the presidential candidate of Citizens` Council for New Politics.

In the beginning, the ballots in Youngnam region were counted first, giving the 4-5% lead to Lee. Once ballot-counting started for the Seoul metropolitan area, Roh began to narrow the gap, finally turning the race for him at around 8:40 p.m. Roh kept the lead, widening the distance between him and Lee.

In a press conference held right after his victory became certain, Roh said, "I will be the president not only of my supporters, but also the president of those who voted against me. I will do my best to honor my promise." He also requested, "We have to open ourselves to dialog and harmony. That way we can make a new era. We should also get together to serve our nation."

Voting took place nationwide at 13,471 polls for 12 hours, starting at 6 a.m. According to the interim report of the National Election Commission (NIC), out of the 34,991,529 registered voters, 24,558,290 people (or 70.2%) cast their ballots, the lowest number for a presidential election so far.

Prior to this election, the 7th presidential election in 1971 recorded the lowest voter participation rate (79.8%).

In the meanwhile, the three national networks, KBS, MBC and SBS, conducted exit polls and predicted that Roh would beat Lee by 1.5%-2.3%.

Young-Chan Yoon yyc11@donga.com