<Parties shifting focus to presidential race>

Ruling party to file complaint against Assembly speaker

By Kim Hyo-jin

The race for Cheong Wa Dae has virtually begun.

Political parties are stepping up their preparations for the presidential election in December next year as behind-the-scenes activities for a group of potential candidates are heating up.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently gave the strongest hint yet about his possible presidential bid as a ruling Saenuri Party candidate, stirring debate and speculation across the political circle. 

With former presidential candidates Moon Jae-in and Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo expected to join the race, other presidential hopefuls have stepped forward announcing their bids to compete with the mainstream candidates.

In the previous elections by this time of the cycle, it was relatively easy to predict who would become the next president. 

In September 2006, Lee Myung-bak, then a potential candidate hopeful in the ruling party, garnered over 30 percent approval, gaining traction to win the 2007 race.

In the last election, the ruling party's potential candidate Park Geun-hye stood at around 30 percent approval rating in late 2011 while leading tight competition with Moon and Ahn. 

However, the approval ratings of the current leading potential contenders ― Ban, Moon, and Ahn ― have lingered around or less than 20 percent.

Analysts say there are still a number of factors to be considered to tell who would become the winner.

"Now, chances are open to all potential contenders," said Yoon Tae-gon, a senior political analyst at Moa Agenda Strategy.

Ban Ki-moon

With no prominent figure in the ruling bloc, Ban has been noted as the strongest potential presidential candidate. Ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers affiliated with President Park Geun-hye have wanted him to join hands with them since early this year.

Ban, who is scheduled to finish his term as the U.N. chief in December, clarified the date of his return to his home country, giving the strongest hint yet about his potential presidential bid. 

At a meeting with floor leaders of the political parties, who were on an official trip to the United States as part of parliamentary diplomacy, on Sept. 15, he said he plans to come back to Korea by mid-January and wants to meet the public and leaders of various fields to explain his decade-long achievements at the U.N.

Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (MPK), interpreted such remarks as a clear sign that Ban's determination for a presidential bid is resolute.

"It was an achievement that we figured out Ban's mind. The opposition bloc will soon contemplate strategies against him," he told reporters upon his arrival from the U.S.

Political analysts expect that Ban will keep his distance from the parties for months while seeking a soft landing in domestic politics. 

It is more likely that he would join the Saenuri Party at the last minute before the primary or seek to be a single candidate in the ruling bloc after the Saenuri Party picks its own candidate, they view. 

He does not have to risk being a target of the political offensive by opposition parties by joining any one party too early. Also, he may need some time to figure out how to keep a fair distance from Park and her followers, the senior analyst Yoon said.

"No candidate has ever won the presidential election by appealing to being the incumbent President's political heir," he noted. 

"It won't be desirable for Ban to be viewed as Park taking the initiative in his presidential bid. He could have his eye on building an independent image while remaining outside the existing parties."

Moon Jae-in

Since the MPK's leadership contest in late August, many political insiders have said it may be a foregone conclusion that the party's former Chairman Moon Jae-in will win the presidential candidacy.

In the contest, candidates from the party's mainstream faction whose members follow the legacy of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, and Moon, swept up most of the leadership seats, fanning speculation that Moon will smoothly pave the way toward the 2017 race.

Even still, the MPK has multiple potential contenders some of whom have already heralded their bid for the Presidency.

South Chungcheong Governor Ahn Hee-jung and Kim Boo-kyum, a four-term lawmaker who has a parliamentary seat in the ruling party's stronghold Daegu, stepped forward, presenting themselves as competent replacements of Moon.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who ranked fourth in the pool of the potential presidential candidates from rival parties following Ban, Moon, and Ahn in recent polls, is also expected to join the heated atmosphere soon. 

Mayor Park said in a recent interview that he will clarify whether or not he will run soon, saying "It is not a responsible attitude if you turn your back on reality riddled with contradictions and pain."

Hwang Tae-soon, a political analyst, views that during the primary race anyone could be thrust into the spotlight despite Moon's firm ground in the party.

"Moon is, for sure, the leading potential candidate at the moment but once the party kicks off the race for the primary, no one knows how things could change," he said, noting that ex-President Roh gained powerful momentum from TV debates between party contenders in 2002. 

Ahn and Kim have been noted odds-on potential candidates from the opposition bloc.

Ahn is known to have been a close confidant to ex-President Roh who assumed the secretary-general post in Roh's camp during the campaign and became a presidential official who managed general state affairs while Roh was in office. 

Kim emerged as a powerful figure in the party since the April 13 general election. He secured the parliamentary seat in Daegu, Saenuri's home turf, being a symbol of breaking regionalism in the country.

Meanwhile, Moon is stepping up the start of a think-tank by October, which will be tasked with devising policies to ease polarization and social anxiety, presumed to be the basis of his presidential pledges, party officials said.

3-way competition

Ahn Cheol-soo, ex-chairman of the opposition People's Party, is certain to join the 2017 race, according to opposition lawmakers and party officials.

Speculation is high that he will hardly discuss putting up a single opposition candidate with the MPK, making it a three-way presidential race.

Although included in a leading group among potential candidates in various polls, Ahn has trailed Ban and Moon. In the latest Realmeter poll, 11 percent of the respondents viewed him favorably while 23.4 and 17.6 percent did so for Ban and Moon, respectively.

In an effort to gain steam in the run-up to the race, Ahn is reaching out to former Saenuri members who bolted out of the party in opposition to Park followers and non-mainstreamers of the MPK.

What remains to be seen is if he can embrace those conservative and liberal outliers and establish ground where they can compete for the candidacy with Ahn outside the realm of the People's Party, pundits say.




speculation: 심사숙고, 짐작

hopefuls: 희망에

current: 현행의

linger: 오래 머물다

parliamentary: 의회

resolute: 의지가 굳은

target: 목표

incumbent: 재임 중인, 의무의 일부로 필요한

have one’s eye on: 눈독들이다





ESL Podcast 1246

<Getting a Gynecological Exam>

Matt: Hello, viewers! On our show today, we have Dr. Rodriguez, who is here to tell us about women’s health. Welcome, Dr. Rodriguez. 

Dr. Rodriguez: Thanks for having me. 

Matt: Tell us. As a gynecologist, what one piece of advice would you give to women to help them stay healthy? 

Dr. Rodriguez: Well, as part of their regular checkups, they should be getting a gynecological exam

Matt: This may surprise you, but I’ve never had one. Ha, ha! 

Dr. Rodriguez: When women come in for an exam, I check several things. I do a breast exam to check for lumps to detect breast cancer. I also show women how to do this at home on their own. 

Matt: Is that all? 

Dr. Rodriguez: No, I do a pelvic exam and a Pap smear to rule out cervical cancer. I also look for anything problematic, such as unusual discharge or signs of STDs

Matt: That sounds painful. Ouch! 

Dr. Rodriguez: It’s not painful and it’s very important. I also discuss with women their menstrual cycles, issues related to being sexually activebirth control methods, fertility issues, and menopause

Matt: I didn’t know what I was missing

Dr. Rodriguez: My point is that it’s important for women to talk to their doctor about any medical issues they may have. 

Matt: And my point is: I’m glad I’m not a woman! 

Dr. Rodriguez: That’s not the message… 

Matt: Thanks for coming in, doctor. And now, let’s talk about something really important – celebrity news!


gynecological: 부인과의

lumps: 덩어리

breast cancer: 유방암

detect: 발견하다

(+tumor: 종양)

pelvic: 골반의

pap smear: 자궁경부암 검사

cervical: 자궁의

unusual discharge: 불안정한 생리주기

STD(Sexually Transmitted Disease): 성병

menstral cycle: 월경기

menopause: 폐경기

sexually active: 성욕이 왕성한

birth control methods: 피임법

fertility issues: 가임여부