With fewer than seven weeks to the 19th presidential election, it has become crucial for candidates to maintain their health and fitness to keep up with their grueling campaign schedules.
Rep. Park Geun-hye, the flag bearer of the ruling Saenuri Party, is a woman of petite physique but has often proved her stamina by spearheading most of the party’s past key campaigns.
Park is a longtime devotee of “danjeon,” or hypogastric breathing, an oriental method of regaining energy and peace of mind, according to her aides.
“Ever since the early 1990s, I have been fond of hypogastric breathing, which has helped me get through (the tough schedule),” she said earlier during a meeting with the Women’s Army Corps.
The former party chief is also known to be a skilled tennis player, as well as a firm believer in a simple, plant-based diet.
“She is a person of outstanding poise and self-control,” said an official of her election camp.
In contrast to Park’s inner strength, Rep. Moon Jae-in of the main opposition Democratic United Party has displayed a more masculine, physically tough image, especially in the early stages of the election campaign.
He even appeared on a television program and gave a demonstration of breaking bricks with his bare hands, reflecting his past experience as a member of the special forces.
Moon nevertheless admitted that the presidential campaign was a heavy physical challenge.
“(The election schedules) seem to be a test of the candidates’ stamina, rather than a contest of policies,” he said.
The former presidential chief-of-staff, however, claims to be in good shape now, thanks to his years-long devotion to mountain-climbing.
“Unfortunately, my schedule has kept me away from the mountains lately,” he said.
“I hope to pay frequent visits to Mount Bukhan and Mount Bugak from next year.”
He was referring to two of the closest mountains to the presidential office in northern Seoul.
Independent candidate and former professor Ahn Cheol-soo may look less robust than his rivals but is reportedly an athletic person.
“His academic image and mild appearance caused people to think of him as physically weak but this is not true,” said one of his campaign officials.
“Even now, he spares at least one hour every day to work out.”
In a marathon event last month, the candidate surprised the media and the public by running almost two kilometers straight, standing out from other politicians who only posed for photographs.
His abstention from alcohol, too, contributes to his health, aides said.
Ahn used to be a heavy drinker in his younger days but quit drinking in 1997 after suffering from acute hepatitis.
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com)