South Korea

Official campaign starts for South Korea's presidential election after Park deposed from power

The two front-runners are Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 11:09am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 11:09am

Official campaigning began Monday for next month’s South Korean presidential election to choose a successor to deposed President Park Geun-hye, with the election heavily tilted toward candidates from liberal parties following a corruption and cronyism scandal linked to Park.

A total of 15 candidates, a record number, are running for the presidency in the May 9 election after Park was arrested on March 31 after being ousted from office earlier that month. She still had one year of her five-year term left.

The two front-runners are Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea, which has the most seats in parliament, and Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party, the country’s third-largest party.

Ahn, a 55-year-old former medical doctor and antivirus software developer, has emerged as a formidable challenger to Moon, a 64-year-old former human rights lawyer and close aide to late president Roh Moo-hyun.

Moon ran in the 2012 presidential election, where he was defeated by Park of the Saenuri Party, which has since been renamed as the Liberty Korea Party.

Various polls have shown that Moon maintains a slight lead over Ahn, whose popularity is growing. According to a survey by Gallup Korea, support for Moon was at 40 from Tuesday to Thursday, while Ahn’s approval rating was at 37 per cent.

The conservative Liberty Korea Party has named South Gyeongsang Province Governor Hong Joon-pyo as its presidential candidate, while its splinter Bareun Party picked Yoo Seong-min as its candidate.

South Korea’s upcoming election is taking place at a time of heightened tensions, with North Korea continuing to carry out ballistic missile launches and showing signs of conducting what would be its sixth nuclear test.

The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier and accompanying ships to waters near the Korean Peninsula in a display of force against North Korea.

The North on Sunday morning launched a ballistic missile near its port city of Sinpo, but the launch failed, according to the South Korean and US militaries.