(Corrects age of lawmaker Moon in sixth paragraph of story published on June 18.)
South Korean opposition lawmaker Moon Jae In said he will run in December’s presidential election, with polls showing him trailing the ruling party’s probable nominee and a possible independent candidate.
Moon, a former presidential chief of staff, will seek to win the Democratic United Party’s nomination in a bid to prevent President Lee Myung Bak’s New Frontier Party from keeping power. The election will be held Dec. 19 and Lee’s single five-year term ends in February. The DUP hasn’t scheduled its primary.
“I will become president of ‘our country,” Moon said in a statement yesterday. “I will become president of a country where owners are ordinary people, not a privileged handful, where people go hand-in-hand without divisions, and where people proudly say ‘we’.” Moon also said he wants a nation based on fairness and justice.
His popularity was unchanged from last week, according Seoul-based Realmeter’s survey released today. Former NFP leader Park Geun Hye, the daughter of military dictator Park Chung Hee, saw her popularity rise 1.8 percent from last week to 42.8 percent and independent software entrepreneur Ahn Cheol Soo saw his drop 2.1 percent to 21.1 percent. The survey of 3,750 people on June 11-15 had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.
Neither Park nor Ahn have announced their candidacies.
Moon, 59, spoke yesterday at the Seodaemun Independence Park in west Seoul, a memorial for the prison where he served time in 1975 for participating in street protests against the dictatorial rule of Park’s father.
Moon began his career as a human rights lawyer in 1982, opening a practice with the late Roh Moo Hyun, then served as chief of staff during Roh’s 2003-2008 presidency. He is considered one of the architects of the “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with North Korea.
In his statement, Moon said he will try to resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue “peacefully,” adding that North Korea must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
“I will surely have the North give up its nuclear ambitions through dialogue and negotiations,” Moon said. “I’ll try to get the six-party talks resumed, and regain South Korea’s leading role in that forum.”
Moon won his first parliamentary term in April, representing South Korea’s second-largest city of Busan, and played a role in successfully negotiating an opposition coalition with the minority United Progressive Party.
To contact the reporters on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org; Sungwoo Park in Seoul at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at firstname.lastname@example.org