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Park visits Daegu ahead of April elections

All News 16:35 March 10, 2016

SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye toured her political powerbase of Daegu on Thursday, a trip that drew keen attention as rival parties gear up for the April 13 parliamentary elections.

The trip came amid a spike in tensions between rival factions within the ruling Saenuri Party over who will win nominations for the upcoming poll. The party has been rocked by wrangling between those who are loyal to Park and others who have been at odds with the chief executive.

The latest visit came under the media spotlight as pro-Park candidates are running for seats in the industrial city 302 kilometers southeast of Seoul, seats which are currently held by lawmakers belonging to Park's rival faction.

There is speculation that Park's visit may be designed to give a much-needed boost to her supporters, who are trailing behind their rivals in opinion polls.

Still, Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office, described Park's trip as something that is related to economics, not politics.

She toured the city's innovation center and an international textile fair before meeting with officials to talk about on how to boost the sports industry.

The trip is meant to help "spread the accomplishments of the creative economy," the presidential office said, referring to her key policy objective that calls for boosting the economy by turning creative ideas into real businesses with the help of cutting-edge science, expertise and information technology.

Last month, Park visited another innovation center in the central city of Daejeon as part of her efforts to revive the economy and create jobs.

The innovation center in Daegu provided support to more than 130 startups or small companies, the government said.

South Korea has set up a total of 17 innovation centers across the country to match up local startups and venture firms with conglomerates, which can provide resources to smaller companies so that they can turn creative ideas into real businesses.

The Samsung Group, South Korea's largest family-controlled conglomerate, is linked to the innovation center in Daegu due apparently to its corporate history.

What began as a small trading company in the city that sold groceries in 1938 is now South Korea's No. 1 family-run conglomerate with businesses in electronics, engineering, insurance, and clothing, and an amusement park.


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