South Korean presidential race gets tighter

Featured - December 14th, 2012

South Korean frontrunner Park Geu-hye lost her edge to Moon Jae-in the days ahead of the presidential elections after the liberal candidate pledged a job package plan worth 20 trillion won ($18.60 billion), according to polls revealed Thursday.

“Growth, welfare, economic democracy all start from jobs and are for the sake of jobs,” Moon told reporters after announcing a plan that would also see a rise in the minimum wage and halving of the number of temporary workers in the private sector, Reuters reports.

Moon, of the Democratic United Party, closed the poll gap of 7.5 percentage points from a week ago, coming in a close second with 47.7% while Park retained the top spot with 47.8%, according to a Real Meter poll conducted on Wednesday.

Both candidates have similarly pledged to strengthen South Korea’s “economic democracy” by rooting out “chaebol” conglomerates and battling corruption, setting aside North Korea-related issues even after a surprise rocket launch seen as a provocation from Pyongyang ahead of the elections.

“The fact there is no major third candidate in this election has made the race even more competitive,” says Lee Taek Soo, head of Real Meter.

Moon’s camp urged South Korean independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo on a “united candidacy” to avoid splitting the liberal vote and handing an easy victory to ruling New Frontier Party. The entrepreneur-turned-professor announced his withdrawal from the race late last month.