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Donations roll in for candidates as presidential race heats up

July 11, 2021 - 13:48 By Ko Jun-tae
Presidential candidates for the ruling Democratic Party of Korea pose for a photo after participating in a debate program Thursday. (Joint Press Corps)
As candidates officially register themselves for next year’s presidential election, donations have started rolling in, giving a preliminary glance at the public support for each candidate and party.

Attention toward the upcoming election is believed to be much more heated than before, with hundreds of millions of won pouring in for candidates even on the first day of them opening accounts to receive donations.

The campaign office for Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung said Saturday that Lee’s account had received 985.4 million won ($861,000) just one day after officially opening to receive donations Friday.

Some 95.1 percent of the donations that Lee’s campaign received on the first day were small sums of 100,000 won or less, which his campaign office said shows Lee’s widespread support from average citizens.

The first-day record for Lee’s campaign office shows his lead in terms of support within the ruling Democratic Party of Korea. Lee has been shown in surveys to be the most favored presidential candidate from the ruling party and has been touted as one of the top two contenders for the presidential post.

Gov. Lee’s donations for Friday surpassed the first-day marks of Rep. Lee Nak-yon at 814.3 million won and former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae with over 200 million won.

On Wednesday, donations marked 1.49 billion won for Rep. Lee, who had opened the account June 30, and 530 million won for Choo, who had opened her account July 5.

The Gyeonggi Province governor’s first-day record is also greater than President Moon Jae-in’s during his successful presidential bid in 2017, when his campaign office collected 731.1 million won on the first day.

Presidential hopefuls from the opposition bloc have yet to officially open their donation accounts, but it is expected their accounts will be quickly filled once opened, considering the increased attention being given to the upcoming election.

The donations for candidates signify that the presidential race for next year will officially start soon.

Preliminary registration for the election with the National Election Commission is to open Monday, allowing candidates to register to officially start their campaigns.

Each candidate can receive up to 2.57 billion won in donations for their presidential campaigns.