South Korea’s two main presidential hopefuls are running neck and neck with the election barely a month away, the latest polls showed after a popular independent candidate bowed out of the race. The latest survey was released as the candidates, including the daughter of former military ruler Park Chung-hee, officially begin campaigning on Tuesday. Election is set on December 19.
The two main candidates seeking to replace Lee Myung-bak are Park Geun-hye, of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Moon Jae-in, from the main opposition Democratic United Party.
Park wants to follow in the footsteps of her father, who ruled South Korea for 18 years until his assassination in 1979. She also served as the unofficial first lady of South Korea after her mother Yuk Young-soo was killed by a North Korean sympathiser from Japan.
Moon, whose father is a refugee from North Korea, is seeking to occupy the seat of his mentor, the liberal President Roh Moo-hyun.
“It is going to be a negative election campaign,” said Kim Jun-seok, a political science professor at Dongguk University in Seoul. “People will split between the ‘pro-growth’ generation that supports Park Chung-hee and the ‘pro-distribution’ generation that supports Roh Moo-hyun.”