Presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak won Korea’s 17th election on Wednesday (Dec. 19), as voters responded to his success as a construction CEO and Seoul mayor.
“I deeply thank the people for their wholehearted support. It is not my victory. It is a victory of the people. I’ll serve the people with humility,” Lee said before GNP officials and his supporters at the GNP headquarters in central Seoul.
“I’ll do my utmost to rescue the Korean economy from its crisis. I’ll also work to promote harmony and integration of the divided society.”
Chung Dong-young of the pro-government United New Democratic Party conceded defeat in a news conference held at UNDP headquarters in central Seoul.
“I’ll humbly accept the will of the people,” said Chung.
Shortly after the closing of the vote at 6 p.m., the three broadcasters forecast that Lee would be elected president with 50.3 to 51.3 percent of the vote, about 25 percentage points ahead of Chung.
Voter turnout was tallied at a record low of 62.9 percent of 37 million eligible voters, down 7.9 points from the 2002 polls and 17.8 points from the 1997 election, the National Election Commission said.
Lee is to become the first Korean president to win a majority vote. He will be inaugurated on Feb. 25 to replace President Roh Moo-hyun.
Since 1987, when the direct presidential election was restored after seven years of authoritarian rule by then President Chun Doo-hwan, a series of close races between rival parties have resulted in presidential candidates winning with support of less than 50 percent.
In the 2002 election, Roh garnered 48.9 percent of the vote, beating his rival candidate Lee Hoi-chang, who ran on the ticket of the GNP, by a margin of merely 2.5 percentage points.
Lee, who celebrated his 66th birthday and 37th wedding anniversary on election day, earned the nickname of “The Bulldozer” for his strong leadership and initiative as CEO of Hyundai Engineering & Construction.
Lee’s childhood portrays Korea’s turbulent modern history. His impoverished parents had moved to Osaka, Japan, during the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea which lasted from 1910 to 1945. Lee was born in the Japanese city in 1941, where his father worked as a herdsman.
Following Japan’s defeat in World War II and Korea’s liberation in 1945, his family returned home, and Lee spent most of his childhood in Pohang, a port on Korea’s southeast coast.
One of Lee’s two brothers, Sang-deuk, is now the vice speaker of Korea’s National Assembly and a five-term lawmaker of the Grand National Party.
Lee attended Dongji Commercial High School in Pohang and went on to enter Seoul’s Korea University, one of the country’s most prestigious schools.
Lee gained employment at Hyundai Construction and Engineering in 1965.
Many have called him a “legend of salaried men.” A diligent man quick to make decisions, he climbed the Hyundai ranks unusually quickly to become CEO at the unprecedented age of 36. Under Lee’s tenure, Hyundai Construction and Engineering became Korea’s export-based growth engine, raking in much-needed foreign currency from Middle Eastern countries in the 1970s and 1980s.
His years at Hyundai were not without their flaws. When an employee of the Hyundai firm was abducted while trying to establish a labor union in 1988, Lee was rumored to be behind the crime. But a senior executive came forward as the mastermind, and Lee denied involvement in anti-labor activities.
Lee made his political debut in 1992 as a lawmaker with the then ruling New Korea Party, the predecessor of the Grand National Party. He won a second term in 1996, but had to resign shortly thereafter, when he was found to have violated election fund laws.
Lee’s fame rebounded in 2002 when he was elected mayor of Seoul.
In the ensuing five years, Lee earned many fans and foes for spearheading ground-breaking projects such as the restoration of a downtown stream and the creation of bus-only traffic lanes, which dramatically changed Seoul’s landscape.
The restoration of the 6-km-long Cheonggye Stream, which was covered by asphalt roads during the industrialization era, initially provoked massive protest from environmentalists, historians and street vendors who worked along the stream.
The popular mayor then moved on, winning the presidential nomination of the popular Grand National Party in August by beating Park Geun-hye, a fixture of the conservative party as its former chairperson and daughter of late President Park Chung-hee.
Content form http://www.Korea.net
I hope something will be changed the next five years.