S.Korean Presidential Candidates Make Final Plea to Voters

Posted December 18th, 2012 at 6:10 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea's presidential candidates are making their final pleas to voters ahead of Wednesday's tightly contested election.

Opinion polls show conservative ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye maintains a small lead over her liberal rival, Moon Jae-in.

Park, of the New Frontier Party, is the daughter of late South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee. She would be the country's first female president.

Moon, of the main opposition Democratic United Party, is a former human rights lawyer once jailed for protesting against the government of Park's father.

Both candidates have made late appeals to moderates, promising to fix the widening income gap that has expanded under President Lee Myung Bak's administration.

One area of difference is North Korea. Moon pledges to hold an early summit with Pyongyang and resume aid without preconditions. Park is more hesitant to make concessions until North Korea apologizes for recent military provocation.

North Korea last week fired a long-range rocket that many say was partially intended to influence the vote in South Korea. But observers said it was unclear whether the satellite launch will have any effect on the outcome.

If elected, Park would become the first South Korean head of state to be related to a former president. Her father, who ruled the country for 18 years, is both admired for dragging the country out of poverty and reviled for his suppression of dissent. He was assassinated in 1979.