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(LEAD) Main opposition visits marine division to appease conservative voters

All News 15:11 June 01, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS photo, details in para 3)

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- Officials from South Korea's main opposition party visited a local marine division in northern Seoul on Wednesday, in a gesture to reach out to conservative voters in the country.

Kim Chong-in, the interim leader of the Minjoo Party of Korea, visited a Marine Corps division located near the border with North Korea. It marked the first time in four months that the lawmaker has been to a military facility.

"The visit aims to prove the party's capability not only in economic areas but in security as well," a party spokesman said.

"We will make efforts to improve the working conditions and impose stronger regulations against corruption within the military," Kim said during his visit. "Politicians will fight to remove hurdles soldiers may face while conducting their duty to protect the country."

Political pundits said the visit apparently aims to ease conservative voters' view that opposition parties are less interested in national security. The tension between the two Koreas has been rising this year after Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January and the firing off of a long-range missile the following month.

Seoul shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North's border city of the same name in February in response to the test. While conservatives cheered the decision, the opposition parties have been denouncing President Park Geun-hye for ending the last tie between the two Koreas.

While the Minjoo Party became the biggest player in the 20th National Assembly with 123 lawmakers, it can become the No. 2 at anytime if independent lawmakers join the ruling Saenuri Party, which holds 122 seats.

Political watchers, meanwhile, said with the presidential election slated for late next year, the opposition will continue to try to woo conservative voters, who remain distrustful of liberals on security issues.

colin@yna.co.kr
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