Presidential Race Heats Up

GNP Presidential candidate Lee outlines his strategies on North Korea and U.S. as major ally

Presidential Candidate for the opposition Grand National Party Lee Myung-bak said he will make moves to give importance to the traditional Korea-U.S. relations, unlike the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun governments which can be regarded as somehow neglected. He said relations with China and Japan are as important in terms of economy and peace in northeast Asia.
If North Korea dismantles its nuclear facilities and weapons, he will try to help the North to boost its per capita income to $3,000 within 10 years.
He said he will also try to develop natural resources in Siberia with Korean technology and capital and workers from North Korea jointly with countries in Northeast Asia, a policy based on his Non-nuclear and Reform 3000 Strategy.
He said in order to carry out the strategy, he will set up a consultation council to conclude a South-North Joint Economic Agreement to spur the economic exchange with the North, especially, in the areas of investment, and trade backed up by laws and systems.
The exchange with the North will be expanded eventually to include the areas of economy, education, welfare and the construction of infrastructure with the aim of boosting the North's per capita income to $3,000 within 10 years.
The stand bearer of the opposition GNP said the inter-Korean economic exchange will be the base for the Joint Northeast Asia Economic Cooperation, which, he believes, must be established for peace and prosperity in the region, pointing to the need for the creation of synergy through multinational cooperation for the development of natural resources in the Russian Siberia.
With D-100 to go for the presidential election on Dec. 19, GNP candidate Lee Byung-bak is still leading a pack of possible presidential candidates with more than 50 percent of the polls taken on Sept. 10, down some 6 percent from end of July when he was elected as the GNP candidate in the party's primary election.
According to a poll of 1,004 taken by the Chosun Ilbo, a leading daily in Seoul, showed that Lee getting 54.5 percent of the polls,
down 6.2 percent from the Gallup polls take on July 25 showing 60.7 percent lead and polls taken by the Kookmin Daily News and Global Research showed Lee winning 49.7 percent of the polls, down 7.3 percent from the polls taken on July 20 by Global Research.
According to polls taken by MBC and Korea Research on Sept. 8, Lee led with 51.6 percent followed by Sohn Hak-kyu, a candidate in the United New Democratic Party primary election, with 8.2 percent, Chung Dong-young, also a new democratic party candidate with 6.4 percent.
United New Democratic Party Primary Election:
In the presidential primaries of the new democratic party in Jeju, Ulsan, Gangwon and North Chungcheong Provinces, candidate Chung won the first place by getting the largest number of votes at 43.2 percent, followed by Sohn Hak-kyu in the second place with 29.1 percent and Lee Hae-chan in third place with 27.7 percent. Lee, who became the only pro-Roh candidate due to the withdrawal of Ryu Simin and Han Myung-sook won the first place in the primary election in Gangwon Province on Sunday, which shows that he will be getting all the pro-Roh votes around the county in the days to come in the areas that primaries have yet to be held.
Political pundits now agree that the primaries in the new democratic party has now become a confrontation between pro-Roh and non-pro Roh candidates, namely between Chung and Lee.
In the early stages, the 4-way contest was considered to be a real close one, but the prognosis was wrong with Chung winning big in Jeju and Ulsan on the first round of the primaries. He again won big in the following primary in Gangwon and North Chungcheong Province. He won the first place in three locations and but came in second after Lee in Gangwon Province. The last primary is to be held in the Gwangju and South Jeolla Province Sept. 29 and Chung is touted to be the winner in the primary, too. Behind Chung's success so far has been attributed to his organization. He went through five elections, two for the chairmanship for the Uri Party and one for presidential primary election followed by three local elections. He built election machines during those elections and the machine still works during the presidential primaries this time also One thing that concerns the candidates is that voter turn out in the primaries in these four locations was low ranging from 19 to 20 percent of registered voters. nw

(from left photo) Presidential candidate for the Grand National Party Lee Myung-bak joins garbage collectors in Seoul Sept. 10 to kick off his 'D-100'campaign for the presidential election with the election only 100 days to go on Dec. 19. Candidate Lee stumping in Daegu. .

(photos clockwise) Candidate former Gyeonggi province Gov. Sohn Hak-kyu delivers a speech at a primary election of the United New Democratic Party, while his rivals Chung Dong-young, former Unification Minister, and former Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan watch.

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