South Korean presidential candidates are launching official campaigns

SEUL – Candidates for the presidential election in South Korea began their formal campaign on Tuesday in a race tainted by intense political struggle over allegations against the main candidates and their families.

Liberal ruling party candidate Li Zhe Meng and his conservative opposition rival Yun Suk Yol are the main candidates out of 14 registered by South Korean electorate. Recent public opinion polls show that they are running around.

The March 9 vote comes as South Korea faces a number of critical challenges, such as the economy affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea’s advanced nuclear program and intensifying rivalry between the United States and China. Both Lee and Yuna have been criticized for not having clear, long-term foreign policies and strategies to address other issues, but focusing on negative campaigns to attack each other.

Lee faced charges that he was involved in a dubious real estate development project launched when he was mayor. His wife recently apologized for allegations that she forced government officials to carry out her personal assignments. Yun, for his part, has faced accusations that he has resorted to shamanism, and his wife has apologized for allegedly exaggerating and falsifying his professional career.

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The winner of the election is to be inaugurated as South Korea’s next president on May 10 for a five-year term. Incumbent President Moon Jae-in is prohibited by law from seeking re-election.

During the 22-day official campaign period, candidates and their campaign participants can deliver speeches in public, advertise in newspapers, television and the Internet, and send text and e-mails to voters, the National Election Commission said.

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