The main opposition Democratic United Party on Sunday picked a close friend and political confidant of former President Roh Moo-hyun as its presidential candidate. Moon Jae-in, who was chief presidential secretary under Roh, said he wants to foster "communication and unity" among the public and "heal" Korean society if he is elected.
The 59-year-old human rights lawyer-turned-politician won the DUP's nomination with 56.5 percent of 614,257 votes received via mobile phone and on-site balloting at a convention center in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province.
Since Moon got a clear majority there will not be another round. DUP lawmaker Sohn Hak-kyu won 22.2 percent of the votes, followed by Kim Doo-kwan with 14.3 percent and Chung Se-kyun with 7 percent.
Moon in his acceptance speech pledged to get rid of a "cabal" of politicians, wealthy businessmen and politically biased prosecutors "and create a society where ordinary people come first." He also promised to revive inter-Korean economic cooperation to achieve per-capita income of US$30,000 for a population of 80 million of a reunified Korea.
Moon said he would send a special envoy to North Korea if elected president to invite officials from the North to his inauguration and to seek an inter-Korean summit during his first year in office.
He also vowed to give more authority to the prime minister in order to divide the powers of the president. Currently the prime minister is a titular post whose job is to support the president and lead the country during his absence.
Moon hopes to join hands with software tycoon Ahn Cheol-soo, a much stronger presidential contender who has a huge following among younger and liberal Korean voters. Ahn is widely expected to announce his presidential bid this week, which is expected to divide the DUP's traditional supporters.
Moon said he wants a single candidate to represent the progressive camp and challenge the ruling Saenuri Party's candidate Park Geun-hye. Ahn issued a statement through a spokesman congratulating Moon.