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GNP Candidates Court Residents of S. Jeolla Province

Posted August. 06, 2007 03:04,   


The Grand National Party (GNP) held its fifth official joint campaign function for its presidential candidates yesterday in Gwangju City. The party previously put off the function once. 3,000 party members with voting privileges gathered for the meeting.

The venue was hot due to high humidity and temperature. But the atmosphere was hotter. Supporters for each candidate chanted slogans for their candidates.

Avid supporters campaigning for two leading candidates -

Supporters of the GNP’s two leading presidential candidates, former Seoul Mayor Lee Myeong-bak and former leader Park Geun-hye, waged the most enthusiastic and organized campaigns since the first joint campaign function held on July 22. Outnumbering the seats, they filled the hallways and staged various campaigning performances, which started one hour prior to the official beginning.

Celebrities joined the festivities. Actors Lee Yeong-wu, Baek Il-seop and Jeong Hong-chae drummed up support for former Mayor Lee, while actresses Kim Hye-yeong, Seonu Yong-nyo and Jeon Won-ju chanted for Park.

Outside the venue, arguments and psychological battles were exchanged between the two groups of campaigners. Barred from entering the venue when they could not show passes, some GNP members criticized the staffers and former GNP leader Park. They argued, “We are GNP members. How could they prohibit us from participating in party activities?”

Jeong Gwang-yong, who leads Park’s supporters, handed out leaflets alleging that a candidate mobilized gangsters.

“I am the one you need!” -

Former Mayor Lee tried to emphasize his merits and put himself ahead of Park. Lee was quoted as saying, “Mokpo University gave me an honorary degree two years ago. I was the first non-local beneficiary. At the awarding ceremony, renowned Rev. Kang [Shin-seok] told the audience that what Koreans needed was a leader [like me] who could advance the national economy.”

On the other hand, Park said, “I apologized to former President Kim Dae Jung for what my father had done to him. Mr. Kim praised me as the leader of next generation who could unite the whole country.”

Park continued, “I heard that somebody had told the public that he sometimes made honest blunders and got hurt only because he worked hard. But not all hard-working citizens make ‘mistakes.’” Her remark was to disparage her archrival Lee.

In the meanwhile, Rep. Hong Jun-pyo scored some points among S. Jeolla voters by saying, “Everyone talks about overcoming regional hegemony and feud. I am the one who has put that into practice. My wife is from this region. I love Jeolla folks. They are good at everything.”

Another minor candidate Won Hee-ryong preached, “The Gwangju Democratic Movement turned around my whole life. Faced with the brutal reality during the movement as a college student, I had to take to the streets.”

ddr@donga.com kimhs@donga.com