2012-12-18 18:35:24

South Korea prepares for elections

(Vatican Radio) Just days after Japanese voters elected a new government, South Koreans are heading to the polls, too. It's a close-run race between two main contenders, one of whom could become South Korea's first female president.

Park Geun-hye is the daughter of South Korea's military ruler through the 60s and 70s. She is pledging to repeat her father's record of economic growth and is promising greater welfare spending.

But for some voters, Park carries the stigma of the political repression of her father's rule.

Her leftwing challenger is Moon Jae-in, who pledges to try to break up the monopolies held by a handful of huge South Korean companies, such as Samsung Electronics and the Hyundai Motor company.

He criticises Park as representing the establishment.

But conservative voters see Moon as being too close ideologically to communist North Korea.

Just days ago it launched a long-range rocket which could one day carry a nuclear warhead.

If elected, Park would become South Korea's first female president. She has apologized for human-rights violations during her father's rule, acknowledging that economic growth at that time came at the cost of workers' freedom.

Election forecasts show the two candidates neck and neck.

Alastair Wanklyn reports: RealAudioMP3

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