Chung Mong-joon, a veteran lawmaker and a son of the late Hyundai Group founder, declared his candidacy for president Sunday, saying he will write a new history for the country.
In a news conference at the National Assembly in Seoul, the 60-year-old Chung said, "I will write a new history for Korea by drawing on my experiences in managing a firm, in foreign diplomacy and in helping the Republic of Korea become one."
The presidential election is scheduled for Dec. 19 with incumbent President Lee Myung-bak barred by law from seeking re-election.
Chung's announcement came weeks after he was re-elected to parliament for a seventh straight term in the April 11 general elections. It was Chung's second time being chosen to represent a Seoul electoral district, after serving five terms in the southeastern city of Ulsan, where the world's largest shipyard, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., is based.
The lawmaker is a son of late Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung and the biggest shareholder of Hyundai Heavy Industries.
"The Republic of Korea is standing at a crossroads. I am concerned our country could collapse in its current situation," Chung said. "Now, we must change. We must bring together the divided hearts of the people. What created the miracle of industrialization and democratization, envied by the world, was not so much political leaders as our great people."
He vowed to push for political and economic reforms, accusing politicians of deceiving the people with populist ideas and lamenting the lack of solutions to various social ills, such as social polarization and youth unemployment.
Creating a sustainable welfare system, removing faction politics and demanding greater corporate social responsibility would also be priorities for him, he said.
Addressing North Korea, he suggested preparing "diplomatic measures" in cooperation with other concerned parties such as China, the United States and the United Nations to "firmly respond" to any future provocations from the communist country.
Chung is the second member of the ruling Saenuri Party to officially declare for the ruling party's presidential candidacy. Last week, Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo declared his bid.
Chung served as vice president of football's international governing body FIFA from 1994 through 2011 and helped bring South Korea its first FIFA World Cup in 2002, when the country co-hosted the event with Japan. Hyundai is one of FIFA's major sponsors. The businessman is now honorary vice president of the organization.
The two contenders are expected to face an uphill battle against Saenuri's interim leader Park Geun-hye, a long-time presidential hopeful who led the party to a morale-boosting victory in this month's parliamentary elections.
Park has broad support from across the party and the current primary rules appear favorable to her in giving roughly the same weight to party members and ordinary citizens.
Last week, Kim called for an "open primary" that selects the party's presidential candidate based entirely on support from ordinary citizens regardless of their party membership.
Lee Jae-oh, a close confidant of the current president, and former Prime Minister Chung Un-chan, are also expected to run for the country's lead post. (Yonhap)