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Candidates all out to draw elite campaigners

Sept. 25, 2012 - 20:50 By Korea Herald
The top three presidential candidates are picking up the pace to form their campaign organizations this week ahead of the crucial Chuseok holiday.

The ruling Saenuri Party’s Rep. Park Geun-hye summoned her closest allies to overcome the recent controversies involving some of her aides.

The main opposition Democratic United Party’s Rep. Moon Jae-in and independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo are competing for prominent figures.

Park is currently choosing her campaign chief from among the party’s heavyweights such as her former primary rival Lee Jae-oh and her former close aide Kim Moo-sung.

Park on Sunday named Lee Jung-hyun, the party’s supreme councilor and former lawmaker, as her publicity affairs chief.

Dubbed “Park’s voice,” Lee had long acted as a reliable communication channel for the former party chief but has largely remained behind the scenes over the past few years.

The appointment of the loyalist was regarded as an attempt to straighten out the series of recent scandals involving some of her aides.

Jeong June-guil, lawyer and member of Park’s public communications team, quit earlier this month amid accusations that he made threatening remarks to an Ahn aide.

Former lawmakers Hong Sa-duk and Song Young-sun were caught up in disputes that they received or requested illicit money from businessmen.

The DUP’s Moon sought to win over members from various in-party cliques, in a move to form a “melting pot” election camp and overcome the factional strife which had stirred the party during the primaries.

The former chief of staff to late President Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday named Chung Dong-young, senior advisor of the party and former unification minister, as chief of his inter-Korean economic policies.

Chung is one of the symbolic figures of the former Democratic Party group, which came in conflict with the civic group-based pro-Roh faction.

Moon also tightened his hold over in-party figures who were considered to be pro-Ahn Cheol-soo, displaying a subtle recruiting competition with his non-party rival.

One of them is former lawmaker Kim Boo-kyum with whom Ahn held several closed-door talks before announcing his presidential bid. Kim was named a staff member of Moon’s election planning team.

Park Sun-sook, former lawmaker and close aide to former President Kim Dae-jung, recently defected from the party to take the post as Ahn’s election campaign chief.

In contrast to Moon’s defensive moves, Ahn moved to embrace a wide variety of social, political and economic experts into his camp.

The rookie politician named Lee Hun-jai, vice prime minister for economy, as his economic advisor and Hong Jong-ho, environment professor at Seoul National University, as his chief policy advisor.

The two are considered to be politically at odds as Lee is a leading conservative economist whereas Hong is progressive.

“We have recruited a variety of people for the sake of reform, convergence and creativity,” said Ahn’s spokesperson Yoo Min-young.

By Bae Hyun-jung (