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Lee Myung-bak Elected President

Posted December. 20, 2007 14:12,   


Lee Myung-bak won South Korea’s 17th presidential election held on December 19.

The result of the official ballot count by the National Election Commission as of 10:10 P.M. Korea time, when 62.9 percent of the counting was completed, showed that Lee Myung-bak won 6,964,062 votes (47.16 percent) ahead of United New Democratic Party candidate Chung Dong-young, who won 4,037,021 votes (27.34 percent), by 2,927,041 votes (19.82 percent).

In exit polls by KBS and MBC that were announced simultaneously with the closure of balloting at 6:00 P.M. approval ratings for candidate Lee Myung-bak appeared to be 50.3 percent, surpassing that of candidate Chung, who scored 26.0 percent, by 24.3 percent points. Exit polling by SBS predicted a 26.3 percent gap between the approval rates for candidate Lee (51.3 percent) and candidate Chung (25.0 percent).

The Grand National Party succeeded in restoring power a decade after the election of former President Kim Dae-jung in 1997 horizontally switched the regime, resulting in a shift of ruling power from the progressive stream to the conservative.

In addition, it is expected that the redirection and reformation will be enforced on the overall policies of President Roh Moo-hyun’s administration, such as engagement policies toward North Korea, which were criticized as give-and-give, regulatory policies on large enterprises, and education polices that focused on equalization.

Successful candidate Lee beat candidate Chung in all 13 cities and provinces besides Gwangju, South Jeolla Province, and North Jeolla Province, and won 16.8 percent of the vote in the Honam region. His prominence was overwhelming, especially in the Yeongnam region, Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, and Gangwon Province, where he won more than 50 percent of the vote.

On the other hand, candidate Chung ended up winning between 6.61 and 32.54 percent of the vote in most regions except in Honam, where an average of 80.4 percent of voters was in favor of him.

In the early hours of ballot counting, Lee Myung-bak started off quite safely with a support rate of around 45%. From 10:00 P.M. when the counting of votes from the capital region started, his rate jumped to 47 percent and continued to grow.

At a press conference he held at the headquarters of the party in Yeouido, Seoul, after his victory was settled, Lee said, “The great power of the people has been disclosed. I’ll serve the people in a modest and down-to-earth manner. I promise I will revitalize the economy, which is what the Korean people want. I’ll also realize the harmony in our split society and integrity among the people.”

Candidate Chung also held a press conference at the headquarters of the UNDP in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul, and said, “I’ll humbly comply with the people’s choice. I’d like Lee Myung-bak to do his best for the nation. Although I’ve failed to be chosen by the people today, I’ll always be with them.”

swpark@donga.com tesomiom@donga.com