Skip to comments.S. Korea: SKorean challenger launches presidential campaign (conservative storm hit the land)
Posted on 11/10/2007 7:32:54 AM PST by TigerLikesRooster
SKorean challenger launches presidential campaign
Thu Nov 8, 2:24 AM ET
A rightwing former opposition leader Thursday launched his campaign for South Korea's presidency as the main opposition party bitterly denounced him as a traitor.
Lee Hoi-Chang, a harsh critic of North Korea, on Wednesday announced his third presidential bid -- throwing the race into confusion by splitting the conservative vote just six weeks before polling day.
Lee, a former supreme court judge and graduate of the top high school and university, visited homes of teenagers living alone and disabled elderly people.
Aides said the 72-year-old is trying to soften his elitist image.
"When you look into him, he's not so bourgeois but his image has been set that way, which was a problem for him," one aide Lee Heung-Joo told Yonhap news agency. "In this election, we will be reaching out to the people."
The conservative opposition Grand National Party (GNP), eager to return to power after 10 years of left-leaning governments, was less flattering.
"The one who founded our party is now pointing his gun at it," GNP chairman Kang Jae-Sup told a party meeting. "This is the act of a traitor who is helping a government that ruined state affairs to prolong its stay in power."
Lee Wednesday announced he was quitting the GNP, the party he founded, to run as an independent to "save" the nation.
The GNP candidate Lee Myung-Bak, a former construction executive and ex-mayor of Seoul, had enjoyed public support of around 50 percent until rumours began circulating last month that Lee Hoi-Chang would stand.
Most newspapers were scathing about Lee Hoi-Chang's decision to run despite failing to stand in the GNP's primary in August.
The Korea Herald said Lee Hoi-Chang, in his "blind pursuit of power, is opting for a free ride on the conservative upsurge in the nation, which would certainly lead to a split in the conservative vote".
North Korea's English-launguage Pyongyang Times joined in the denunciation, according to Yonhap, calling his third presidential bid a "dog's dream".
In making his announcement Wednesday Lee Hoi-Chang cast doubt on the integrity of the GNP candidate. Lee Myung-Bak, 66, has been hit by allegations of past land speculation and improper business dealings, which he denies.
But the elder Lee mainly took issue with his rival's "ambiguous" policy on North Korea.
Lee Hoi-Chang has called for the suspension of aid until the communist North completely dismantles its nuclear programme, while Lee Myung-Bak has said he would provide economic assistance even before full denuclearisation.
A survey taken after Wednesday's announcement and published in the Chosun Ilbo newspaper showed Lee Myung-Bak's support almost unchanged compared to late last month, at around 38 percent.
Lee Hoi-Chang saw his rating rise five percent to 24 percent. Chung Dong-Young of the pro-government United New Democratic Party saw his support drop three percent to around 14 percent.
However, some 52 percent of the 1,000 people polled opposed Lee Hoi-Chang's candidacy, with just 37 percent supporting it.
The front-runner Lee Myung-bak and his associates are not solid conservatives. They are not so much interested in keeping some crucial conservative views on national security and corruption. They are more interested in cornering erstwhile Roh Moo-hyun supporters who are looking for an alternative, but not anything conservative at all. They are all happy with Lee Myung-bak, a crooked man with long list of bribery, stock fraud, draft-dodging, real estate speculation using insider information, and various grafts. He created unholy coalition of big business interest, limousine liberals, and Protestant Christians. The first like him because he could pay them back with big favors (such as letting Chaebol into banking industry), while the second like him because he will stay pro-North and only focus on "economy", allowing most of other leftist agenda untouched. The last like him because he is a deacon of a church.
This infuriated true conservatives, younger voters in 20's (who were once duped into voting for Roh Moo-hyun), and many ordinary people. Now they are all rallying for Lee Hoi-chang. In further twist of this saga, so-called three major conservative newspaper (Chosun, JoongAng, and Donga) are all mounting vociferous attack on Lee Hoi-chang, who they tirelessly championed in the last election, because rather corrupt Lee Myung-bak assured it easy for them to have nice sweet-heart deals. They are supposed to champion coservative principles, but ditched them for money.
Now Lee Hoi-chang is an independent with no party organization. He is now a lone ranger candidate who has to rely on outporing of popular support. So far, people's response has been quite favorable to him. He also changed a lot. He ditched his aloof style, and learned to fight like a politician. Previously, he was basically a career judge and top government official not used to knock-down dragged-out political struggles. That is one reason he failed in his last two presidential bid. Now he came back as a guy who can hit hard and hit home.
Weary of the current government who are good for nothing for most people, many people reluctantly threw their support for the frontrunner Lee Myung-bak, but they are not happy with the idea that they are forced to choose this odious corrupt man.
Now Lee Hoi-chang gave them the new choice, and many are happy to see him return, even though he broke his pledge to retire from politics for good.
What impressed people most is his pledge that he will never tolerate violent mobs clogging the street and beat up riot cops and soldiers with impunity, disrupting livelihood. He vowed to severely punish those responsible, if elected. The pinko mobs terrorized the society for so long that people are elated to hear his words.
Besides, he takes a tough line against N. Korea. He says that, if N. Korea keeps nuke, S. Korea should have its own nukes.
He also drove his point home by visiting the family of Navy sargeant Hwang Dohyun, who was killed by N. Korean navy gun-fire in 2002. He and other victims of N. Korean attack were ignored and disregarded by previous two government, in order not to upset their appeasement mode. However, Lee Hoi-chang went to his home and consoled his parents, who were quite poor and live in a virtual shack.
I root for his dramatic upset victory. I hate the pro-North left and spineless corrupt Lee Myung-bak. Lee Myung-bak will finish what the pro-North left off: ruining S. Korea for good. Lee Myung-bak is basically a kind of businessman who would sell Lenin a lot of ropes if it can enrich him handsomely.
All in all, S. Korean election campaign did feature dramatic twist again. There is a familiar scenario in S. Korean presidential election campaign: the early frontrunner never gets elected, due to dramatic turn of event late in the campaign.
Lee Hoi-chang paying respect to fallen soldier Hwang Do-hyun
Thank you for posting this, and for your own enlightening commentary.
Posts like this are what keep me coming back to FR and wading thru all “You don’t agree with me so you must be a liberal” nonsense.
Hey Tiger what his chance against other party also what his stand on Chia Pet and North KOrea
Would Chia Pet be roaney again
Thanks for posting. While party schisms are rarely a good thing, Myung-bak gave me the creeps. South Korea badly needs a real leader.
Really think this could
only happen in South Korea -
no way this could
Pose a problem in
Unless, of course someone has a
late change of mind.
Let us hope the "Good" Lee, vanquishes the "Bad" Lee and also the Socialists, to win in a three way race.
Pyongyang would go ballistic! (maybe in more ways than one).
I am sure that Bush and Condi would be disapppointed if a true realist/hardliner won over two pro-appeasement camps.
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