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GNP Seoul Mayor Primary a Dead Heat

Posted April. 25, 2006 05:18,   


Who will win the competition as the Grand National Party candidate for the Seoul mayor position, which stands to be a narrow victory?

On April 24, one day before the election, three contenders, Rep. Hong Joon-pyo (52), former representatives Oh Se-hoon (45) and Maeng Hyung-kyu (59), who will confront Uri Party’s would-be candidate Kang Kum-sil, claimed that they can beat Kang and will provide a stepping stone to the party to become the ruling party in the next election. They tried their best to appeal to voters up to the last minute.

The voters, comprised of party officials, rank-and-file members, and non-party citizens, will cast their ballots on the basis of the closeness with the three candidates, contributions by them, the decision of local party chapter leaders, and the three candidates’ competitiveness in the mayoral election.

Hong plans to appeal to swing voters, emphasizing on his nerve and determination to confront the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Hong said, “This election is the venue to determine the party’s competence. The one who can make the party into the ruling party in next year’s presidential election, putting an end to its 10-year opposition status, should be the mayor of Seoul.”

Hong will stress his services to the party and competitiveness in the northern part of Seoul at the last minute. He will refrain from attacking candidate Oh, calling him “the one who gets a suntan at a fitness center in the Gangnam area.”

Oh will position himself as the one who can beat candidate Kang of the Uri Party. He said, “Why did the GNP lose twice in the last presidential elections? That was because the party appealed only to the party supporters. The party should get younger. The candidate should be one who can attract anti-Roh Moo-hyun and anti-GNP swing voters.”

Maeng chimes that he is a well-prepared candidate who can stop the project of forming an administrative capital, integrate the southern and northern parts of Seoul, and enhance the competitiveness of Seoul.

“If we choose image politics, we will not be in a position to bring momentum to the nation and to criticize the Roh administration which took power through image campaigning and political wave,” said Maeng. “I have prepared to become Seoul mayor for the last three years, and I am confident that I can earn a comfortable victory in the mayoral election, competing against Kang.”

The primary will be held on April 25 at the Olympic Park`s Fencing Stadium in Songpa-gu, Seoul, and fierce competition among the three contenders is expected.

Maeng’s supporters will stage a performance of blue flags, which symbolize the GNP and national prosperity, in an effort to deliver a dynamic and youthful image.

Oh will make solemn atmosphere beating buk, traditional drums, because one sound gives the feeling of intensiveness and unity.

Hong plans to create an atmosphere with the concept of Red Devil, the Korean soccer fans organization, having his supporters wear red clothes.

Yong-Gwan Jung Jung-Eun Lee yongari@donga.com lightee@donga.com