By: Jun Ji-hye

The rival parties used widely different campaign strategies to woo voters in the lead-up to Wednesday’s neck-and-neck by-elections.

The ruling Saenuri Party came up with the concept of a middle-aged woman, calling itself “Saejumma,” a compound word combing Saenuri and ajumma (middle-aged woman in Korean).

The concept was designed to stress its pledge to carefully look after the local economy like a frugal housewife.

“Like mothers who know everything about what family members need, the ruling party candidates well know the needs for the region,” Kim told reporters during campaigning.

In an effort to maximize the concept, Saenuri Party Chairman Rep. Kim Moo-sung met with voters, wearing a red apron and household rubber gloves. Red is the symbolic color of the governing camp.

Ahead of the election, Kim again stressed that if the party’s candidates are elected, the party will fully support them, including financial support so that they can effectively implement their election pledges in their regions.

Secretary General Rep. Lee Koon-hyon echoed the chairman, saying, “I hope voters carefully think about who will work for the development of the region and choose them. I hope voters make a cool-headed assessment of which party can take responsibility for the people’s livelihoods.”

The ruling party believes that it will be successful if it wins at least two seats in the elections, with a total of four seats up for grabs.

It was keeping on its toes until the last minute, paying keen attention to the possible impact of the bribery scandal involving deceased Keangnam Enterprises Chairman Sung Woan-jong and a number of figures from the governing camp.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) initially used a slogan that it was the “competent party in economic policies.” Holding a policy expo that ran from April 6 to 8, it stressed its plans to revive the economy through growth based on an increase in household income.

In the wake of the Sung scandal, however, it changed that strategy to focus on the perceived shortcomings of the Park Geun-hye government.

NPAD Chairman Rep. Moon Jae-in said during a visit to Seogu/Ganghwa-B in Incheon, Monday, “The Park government has suffered power-related corruption, as well as a failure in economic policies and the appointment of officials.”

The largest opposition party also had a goal of winning at least two seats. In particular, it desperately wanted to defend Seogu-B in Gwangju, a traditional home turf of liberal parties.

“We assess that winning at least two seats would reflect the public support toward us,” said Secretary General Rep. Yang Seoung-jo. “If we are defeated in Gwangju, we will suffer massive aftereffects.”

Gwanak-B in Seoul; Jungwon in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province; Seogu-B in Gwangju, and Seogu/Ganghwa-B in Incheon were contested in Wednesday’s elections.

Despite the comparatively small number of seats being contested, the ballot is regarded as meaningful because it will be a litmus test for public sentiment a year before the 2016 general election.

SOURCE: THE KOREA TIMES