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Main opposition candidate losing momentum in race

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Main opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl, center, speaks during a meeting of the party's Supreme Council at the National Assembly in Seoul, Thursday. Joint Press Corps
Main opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl, center, speaks during a meeting of the party's Supreme Council at the National Assembly in Seoul, Thursday. Joint Press Corps

By Jung Da-min

Main opposition People Power Party (PPP) presidential candidate Yoon Seok-youl is losing the high support rate which he enjoyed immediately after the party's candidate selection, with his lead over ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) candidate Lee Jae-myung narrowing.

In a survey of 1,007 voters conducted Nov. 19 and 20 by local pollster Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI), 40 percent of respondents said they supported Yoon, and 39.5 percent, Lee. Compared to the previous survey conducted a week earlier, Lee's support rate increased by 7.1 percentage points, while Yoon's support rate decreased by 5.6 percentage points.

In another survey of 1,011 voters conducted Nov. 22 and 23 by pollster Realmeter, Yoon won 44.1 percent, followed by Lee with 37 percent, showing the gap between the rival candidates has also narrowed to 7.1 percentage points, down from 9.8 percentage points in a poll two weeks earlier, conducted several days after Yoon won the PPP's primary.

A third survey conducted by Gallup Korea ― also on Monday and Tuesday ― showed Yoon and Lee were neck-and-neck, with the former gaining support of 38.4 percent and the latter, 37.1 percent. Compared to two weeks ago, Yoon's support fell by 3.3 percentage points, while Lee's rose by 4.7 percentage points.

Ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung speaks during a policy conference with female military service members at a cultural complex in Seoul's Dongjak District, Thursday. Joint Press Corps
Ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung speaks during a policy conference with female military service members at a cultural complex in Seoul's Dongjak District, Thursday. Joint Press Corps

Lee Kang-yun, head of the KSOI, said in a radio interview with local broadcaster YTN, Thursday, that Yoon had enjoyed a post-convention bounce since his election as the main opposition candidate in early November for a relatively long period, compared to previous cases, but that popularity has started to fade.

"There is no momentum for Yoon to keep the upward trend that took place along with his primary victory," a Realmeter official said.

The conflicts among political heavyweights who were supposed to join his election camp are one factor dragging down Yoon's support, according to experts.

On Sunday, Yoon announced Kim Chong-in, former head of the PPP's emergency committee, would be the party's election committee chief; while Kim Byong-joon, former interim chief of the Liberty Korea Party, a predecessor of the PPP, will be standing committee co-chairman along with party leader Lee Jun-seok; and Kim Han-gil, former leader of the Democratic Party, a predecessor of the DPK, will be the chairman of the so-called New Era Preparatory Committee, a separate unit aimed at winning support from centrists and liberals.

But two days later, Kim Chong-in said it was not certain yet whether he would join Yoon's camp, reportedly citing disagreement over the candidate's personnel choices, including the selection of Kim Byong-joon and Rep. Chang Je-won as his chief secretary.

Meanwhile, his rival Lee Jae-myung has been focusing on the chase, vowing to carry out a complete overhaul of the DPK to appeal to the public. During a policy meeting at his election camp, Wednesday, Lee made a deep bow to apologize for failures to address the people's difficulties and promised further reform of the party.


Jung Da-min damin.jung@koreatimes.co.kr


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