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Parties to Clash in Nakdong River Belt in April Elections

Written: 2024-03-29 17:33:16Updated: 2024-03-29 17:34:41

Parties to Clash in Nakdong River Belt in April Elections

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: Rival parties have been focusing their campaigns in the “Nakdong River Belt,” a region in the country’s southeast that is once again a key battlefield for the upcoming general elections. Conservatives and liberals fought fierce battles in the nine districts that border the Nakdong River in the past, including in the 2020 general elections when the People Power Party(PPP) grabbed four seats and the Democratic Party(DP) won five. 
With the April 10 elections less than two weeks away, today's installment of our report series on the regional political landscape zeroes in on key areas in South Gyeongsang and North Gyeongsang, as our Yun Sohyang explains their significance in the upcoming elections.

Report: On the first day of the official campaign period on Thursday, all 37 candidates running in 16 districts in South Gyeongsang Province took to the streets to woo voters. 

 Among the districts on the Nakdong River Belt, the Yangsan-B district is receiving increased attention as heavyweights from the two main parties, who both served as South Gyeongsang governor, are set to face off. PPP lawmaker Kim Tae-ho, who won seven out of eight past general and local elections, is taking on incumbent Kim Doo-kwan from the DP.

The Gimhae-B district is also a hotly contested area with PPP lawmaker Cho Hae-jin competing against DP candidate Kim Jung-ho, who is seeking a third term. 

[Sound bite: Professor Benjamin Thompson,Kyungpook National University Department of Political Science] 
The Nakdong River Belt near Busan, which includes nine districts, some of them are in Western and Northwestern Busan and some of them are in parts of South Gyeongsang next to Busan, including places like Gimhae and Yangsan, they’ve been especially competitive and so we have some real battlegrounds there. If the elections end up reasonably close, then that could really matter in terms of counting up how seats are allocated and whether we will see coalition governments in the national assembly.

Candidates running for districts in Busan also launched a full-fledged campaign on Thursday. 

The ruling PPP and the main opposition DP fielded 18 and 17 candidates respectively  for the southeastern port city, while two from the New Reform Party and three independent candidates are running for parliamentary seats in the city. The PPP aims to win all 18 seats in Busan, while the DP set a goal of securing more than nine. 

Candidates running in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province also began campaigning in earnest on Thursday. 

DP candidate Kang Min-koo for the Suseong-A district in Daegu said during his campaign that the Yoon government disappointed the people for the past two years. The DP’s Daegu chapter earlier said it aimed to secure three seats in the city. 

Meanwhile, officials at the PPP’s Daegu chapter called on the city's Jung and Nam constituency to support PPP candidate Kim Ki-woong. A party official said they aim to secure all 12 seats in the traditional conservative stronghold of Daegu and hope that their strong public support in Daegu will spread nationwide.

The Jung and Nam district has emerged as the city’s biggest battleground as the PPP’s changes in candidate nomination split conservative voters. Do Tae-woo, who is running as an independent after the PPP cancelled his nomination due to controversy over his past remarks, also launched his campaign on Thursday. 

[Sound bite: Professor Benjamin Thompson, Kyungpook National University Department of Political Science]
"So, there is one seat that represents the Jung and Nam district in Daegu, where Do Tae-woo is running as an independent after losing that nomination process and he’s running against Kim Ki-woong, who is the former vice minister of unification representing the PPP, that’s an interesting race because they are both running against DP candidate Heo So, there’s a chance in a race like that if the conservative vote is split enough, then maybe just, maybe the Democratic candidate might come out winning."

With the official 13-day campaign period continuing until April 9, results from the Nakdong River Belt and the southeastern region are likely to heavily influence which party will secure the majority in the 22nd National Assembly.  
Yun Sohyang, KBS World Radio news.

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