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Hong wins nomination for Park’s former party

Apr 01,2017
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Hong Joon-pyo
South Gyeongsang Province Gov. Hong Joon-pyo on Friday clinched the presidential nomination of the conservative Liberty Korea Party for the May 9 election, bracing for an uphill battle against powerful liberal rivals.

The former ruling party announced its flag-bearer during a national convention in Seoul based on the combined results of a vote by full-time party members and opinion polls conducted for the past week.

The 62-year-old former prosecutor secured 54.15 percent, beating Rep. Kim Jin-tae, a close ally of ousted President Park Geun-hye; party veteran Rhee In-je; and North Gyeongsang Province Gov. Kim Kwan-yong in the nomination race.

“Now, our country needs a resolute strongman,” Hong said, referring to the regional geopolitical landscape marked by strong leaders, such as U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“With your power, I will become a confident president, and stabilize the nation and make the Republic of Korea an affluent country,” he added.

During the speech, Hong also said he would seek to unify conservative forces, take a hard-line stance against a nuclear North Korea and enhance ordinary citizens’ livelihoods.

In particular, Hong said that if elected president, he would seek negotiations with the United States to redeploy its tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea and enable Seoul to share control of the nuclear arms in the same way Washington and several NATO member nations have done.

Hong also vowed to prioritize creating a business-friendly environment, accusing “leftists” of hindering corporate activities and undermining free market principles enshrined in the country’s Constitution.

Hong’s win came as the election landscape is seen heavily weighted in favor of the liberal bloc in the wake of a massive corruption scandal involving Park.

Yonhap