Moon Jae-in declared victory in the Democratic Party of Korea’s primary race Monday, becoming the liberal standard-bearer for the second time in his life and setting out on a battle to carry on the legacy of his late friend and liberal icon President Roh Moo-hyun.
Moon cruised to easy victories in all four of the party’s regional primaries, securing a majority of 57 percent and confirming his win without a runoff.
South Chungcheong Gov. Ahn Hee-jung came in second place with 21.5 of votes, followed by Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung who garnered 21.2 percent.
“I would like to declare an end to the nation’s deep-rooted conflicts. There is no ideology that is superior to the people,” Moon said after his win was announced at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul, where the final primary round for the Seoul metropolitan area, Gangwon Province and the southern island of Jeju was held.
“We need to throw away the binary thinking that divides our country into left vs. right, and liberals vs. conservatives. We need to boldly cut ourselves from conflicts, confrontations and divisions that remain in our minds and hearts,” the politician said to some 15,000 party members and supporters who filled the baseball stadium.
He also praised his in-party rivals and their pledges, adding he pursues the same values.
“I was lucky to be able to compete with the three nominees and wish to maintain our friendship as political colleagues.”
While vowing to shake up the country with bold reforms, he also gave out three pledges: to care for the economy and national security; to get rid of unfairness and corruption in society; and to pursue unity and cooperation.
Moon has been topping polls for 13 consecutive weeks, securing some 30-40 percent of support.
In a local poll by Realmeter on Monday, Moon garnered 43 percent of support in a hypothetical five-way race between the presidential candidates across the aisle. Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party followed with 18.7 percent. Sweeping six rounds of primaries, Ahn is expected to become the party’s flag-bearer Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the conservative Liberty Korea Party posted support of 10.2 percent while Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the conservative splinter Bareun Party and Rep. Sim Sang-jeung of the minor liberal Justice Party tied with 3.9 percent.
A native of Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, Moon was a human rights lawyer-turned-chief of staff to liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, before entering the National Assembly in 2012. He ran in the same year’s presidential race but suffered a 48:52 defeat to conservative standard-bearer Park Geun-hye.
As a former member of Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyeon, Moon has built an image as a champion of human rights and democracy as well as an advocate of a fair and just society.
His core support base is made up of liberal-minded voters who idolize the late former President Roh. A large proportion of supporters of the Democratic Party regard him as the successor to continue the legacy of the late president, who championed making politics work for ordinary citizens, not for those with vested rights.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com