Chung announces presidential bid
Chung Mong-joon, a businessman-turned-lawmaker, announced Sunday he will run in the Saenuri Party primary in the run-up to the December presidential election.
Chung is also chairman of the world’s largest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries. He promised to fight against the widening income gap.
“As a presidential hopeful, I would like to address social problems such as the collapse of the middle class, youth unemployment and educational problems. Populism is not an answer to these problems,” said the 60-year-old politician in a news conference held at the National Assembly.
His statements come after he was re-elected as a lawmaker in the April 11 parliamentary elections for a seventh straight term. Chung represents the Dongjak electoral district in Seoul.
He vowed to put a sustainable welfare system into place to tackle social ills, admitting that Korea is moving toward a welfare society.
Chung also said that there are 15 million people not covered by the nation’s four major social insurance plans, calling for an overhaul of the current welfare system.
The four major plans consist of the national pension service, national health insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, and unemployment insurance.
Addressing political and economic reform, he vowed to cut the vicious cycle of political corruption and economic polarization.
This is the second time for the seven-term lawmaker to enter the presidential race. In an unsuccessful attempt in 2002, with only one month to go, Chung dropped out as his popularity fell sharply as the election neared.
He endorsed then presidential candidate Roh Moo-hyun who ran on the ruling party ticket. But later Chung withdrew his endorsement a day before the polling day. Roh won despite this.
Chung made his bid public about a week after Gyeonggi Governor Kim Moon-soo declared he would run, giving shape to the competition to select a Saenuri Party presidential candidate.
The two candidates are expected to be challenged by Park Geun-hye, head of the conservative party’s interim leadership committee, enjoying unrivaled popularity in the ruling camp. Other potential candidates include Rep. Lee Jae-oh and former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan.
Striving for an upset win against the Saenuri Party’s frontrunner, Park, the candidates geared up for their presidential campaigns last week.
Gyeonggi Governor Kim joined a conservative group led hiking campaign Thursday in his bid to woo right-wing voters.
Lee, a confidant of the current President also went on a nationwide tour.
In his move to get in on the presidential race, former Prime Minister Chung rejected joining on alliance against Park.