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Presidential candidates gearing up to kick off campaigns

All Headlines 17:28 November 26, 2012

SEOUL, Nov. 26 (Yonhap) -- The camps for the rival presidential candidates said Monday they have completed all preparations for their respective three-week campaigns on the eve of the launch of the official campaign period.

Starting Tuesday, ruling Saenuri Party hopeful Park Geun-hye and main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) candidate Moon Jae-in will formally kick off their race to become South Korea's next chief executive.

Both Park and Moon registered with the National Election Commission on Sunday, with the Saenuri candidate giving up her proportional representative seat in parliament as a sign of her resolve to win this year's election.

The 60-year-old Park plans to conduct a race centered on announcing policies that can impact everyday lives and stressing the importance of national unity. She hopes to achieve that latter by facilitating free flow of communication with the public.

The conservative party will also launch regional campaign teams tasked with drumming up support for Park in key contested regions such as Seoul, Busan, Gwangju and Daejeon.

Voter support from the four cities and the surrounding areas is expected to decide if Park wins the Dec. 19 race.

Reflecting the importance of these four regional centers, Park will be present at the launching ceremony in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of the capital city, while party leaders such as Rep. Chung Mong-joon and party chief Hwang Woo-yea will take charge of organizing support in other areas.

"The campaign itself will be 'open' and be made as festive as possible by making use of up to 20 popular songs and dances," a source said.

He said to appeal to younger voters, lawmakers and party members well known to the public will be utilized to the fullest to outline Saenuri's goals for change. Park, the daughter of late President Park Chung-hee, is popular among the older generation and conservatives, but her support is relatively weak among young people.

The official added that Park will on average visit 10 regions a day up until Dec. 18 as part of the party's strategy to increase her exposure with voters and spend as much time as possible outside of Seoul.

"The emphasis will be placed on listening to the plight of ordinary people," the official said.

Likewise, the DUP's Moon and his campaign staff said the 59-year-old candidate will launch his formal bid to become president in Busan and then move to Seoul in the afternoon.

"Moon's campaign will abstain from large rallies and focus more on creating a bond with individual voters and making use of numerous celebrities representing the cultural sector and popular art," Rep. Cho Jeong-sik, a senior official at Moon's election camp, said.

He added Moon's campaign will create a two-way exchange of information in an effort to appeal to modern voters, instead of the old-fashioned way of delivering speeches and releasing unilateral pledges.

The party said to counter Park's claims that she wants to be the country's first woman president and has the credentials to lead, Moon's campaign is set to portray the liberal contender as a chief executive who can herald the start of a new era.

The party said 15 theme songs have been selected for use in the coming weeks, with a total of 290 vehicles to be used to advertise Moon's policy goals.

Meanwhile, the DUP said it wants to solicit the support of independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, who quit his bid late Friday so a single liberal contender can compete against Park.

The move was seen as necessary since in a three-way-race, both Moon and Ahn stood little chance against their conservative rival.

Park Kwang-on, an aide for the DUP's election camp, said efforts are under way to merge with Ahn's supporters so that this coalition can be maintained after the election and become the foundation for the liberal camp to run the country together.


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