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Yoon’s former aide to run for Gyeonggi Province governor

Kim Eun-hye, former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min to be key contenders at People Power Party

Rep. Kim Eun-hye (Yonhap)
Rep. Kim Eun-hye (Yonhap)
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s close aide Kim Eun-hye announced her bid for Gyeonggi Province governor, heating up the race for what is considered the biggest prize of the June 1 location elections.

The journalist-turned-politician who was Yoon’s spokesperson held a press conference Wednesday, saying, “I, Kim Eun-hye, as a Korean citizen and Gyeonggi Province resident, declare my candidacy for the governor of Gyeonggi Province.”

The first-term lawmaker vowed to make a “fair Gyeonggi Province,” raising criticism aimed at controversies arising from previous regional governments, including the suspicion of preferential treatment for a development project in Daejang-dong in the province’s city of Seongnam.

“The election for Gyeonggi Province governor is an election that asks whether to continue or overcome Lee Jae-myung’s era,” Kim said, referring to the presidential candidate narrowly defeated by Yoon last month. “It is an election to ask whether to extend or stop the power of incompetent and corrupt Democratic Party in Gyeonggi Province.”

She said the Daejang-dong project was the biggest scam, labeling former Gov. Lee Jae-myung as an architect of a bonanza scheme that invested 350 million won ($287,000) and pocketed 800 billion won.

Regarding the real estate issue, “There is no more preferential development like Daejang-dong,” Kim said.

She promised to disclose the housing sales cost of all development projects in new cities pushed by the Korea Land and Housing Corp. and 20 other development companies.

“The solution to the real estate problem is expanding supply, easing loans and reducing taxes,” she said. “The central government’s real estate reform will create synergy with the development strategy of Gyeonggi Province and achieve stability of housing for the working class and regional development.”

The candidate also stressed “fairness” among countries.

Kim pledged to apply the principle of reciprocity among countries in terms of foreign property ownership and voting rights in Gyeonggi Province.

“If we can own real estate and have the right to vote in a certain country, we should allow it too. But if our people cannot own property and exercise the right to vote in a certain country, we should restrict theirs, too.”

She said this principle of reciprocity is the “natural attitude” of a sovereign state.

Rep. Kim served as the head of public affairs for Yoon during the presidential election and was a spokesperson for the presidential transition committee.

With Kim announcing the bid following former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min, expectations are growing for the People Power Party to retake Gyeonggi Province. The party seeks to make all-out efforts to win local elections in order to secure the driving force for state affairs in politics, where the current ruling Democratic Party of Korea holds a majority.

From the ruling party, Kim Dong-yeon, leader of the New Wave party and formerly prime minister, is also running for governor. The New Wave party is pushing for a merger with the Democratic Party.

Yoo, who has already announced his candidacy, said he “greatly welcomed” Kim Eun-hye’s candidacy. “Whether Rep. Kim or those who announced their candidacy before me, I think the provincial residents will judge wisely if we compete fiercely and fairly according to the rules set by the party.”

According to polling agency Realmeter, which asked 1,009 people living in Gyeonggi Province, 37.6 percent of the respondents favored Yoo while 36 percent selected Kim Dong-yeon. At a virtual bilateral match between Kim Eun-hye and Kim Dong-yeon, Kim Dong-yeon received 41.8 percent support against Kim Eun-hye with 28.6 percent.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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