|Park Geun-hye, left, presidential candidate of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Moon Jae-in, presidential contender of the main opposition Democratic United Party, appear in TV commercials. / Yonhap|
Presidential contenders Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in released their first television campaign advertisements Tuesday as they compete to win the hearts and minds of voters ahead of the Dec. 19 polls.
But commercials are one thing and television debates are another. Park, the conservative candidate from the ruling Saenuri Party, has repeatedly declined requests by the opposition challenger to engage in more presidential debates than the three required under the Election Law that will air on Dec. 4, 10 and 16.
Park's television advertisement is built around her slogan to "heal people's wounded hearts." Moon's Democratic United Party (DUP) is aimed at highlighting its candidate's down-to-earth image.
In the 60-second video, the Saenuri Party attempted to stoke the emotions of Park's supporters by reminding them when Park was slashed on the face by a dissenter while campaigning during the Seoul mayoral elections of 2006. After receiving treatment, an emotional Park returned to campaigning, an incident many believed provided a critical boost to eventual winner Oh Se-hoon.
"There is no one without a scar, but the scar from the incident which put me at death's door that day completely changed me," the narrator says as the camera shows a picture of Park in pain.
When the scene shifts to people wishing for Park's recovery with candles and placards, the narrator continues, "You saved me. At that point, I decided to heal people's wounded hearts for the rest of my life. Now it is my turn to dedicate myself to you." Zooming in on the scar on her right cheek, the commercial closes out with a message, "Prepared female President Park Geun-hye."
"The advertisement contains the message that Park will dedicate herself in return to the people who helped her to recover after going through many hardships," Byun Chu-suk, the Saenuri Party's chief of public relations said. "Park's rich experience is superior to that of her counterpart. So, I also stressed that she is prepared for the presidency."
To the background of a popular song, "If I were," sung by actress Moon So-ri, Moon's commercial starts with the camera showing a dark tunnel before closing up on yellow flowers in the light. Yellow has been the symbolic color of the DUP since the days of the late President Roh Moo-hyun.
In his voiceover Moon asks "Are you happy my fellow Koreans? Do you feel the (current) government exists for you? Do you feel the government is concerned about the difficulties you are going through?"
Then the film shows the inside of Moon's house and zooms in on old family photos of Moon and his wife. Then it moves to the image of Moon delivering a speech at the podium. He closes the commercial by promising "there will be equal opportunities, fair process and just outcome."
"The advertisement emphasizes a big difference between Moon, who has lived his entire life as commoner, and Park who comes from a privileged background," Yu Eun-hye, the DUP's chief public relations manager said. "At the end of it, I included three core messages of his speeches showing his strong will to bring a change to politics to open a new era."
Under the election laws, each camp is allowed to air their television ads a maximum of 30 times and the length of each commercial is limited to 60 seconds.
On the possibility of more ads in the pipeline, the DUP official said the upcoming commercials will center on embracing the supporters of former candidate Ahn Cheol-soo, highlighting Moon's management ability as leader. The Saenuri Party official said the following ads will emphasize Park's trustworthy image of keeping her promises and the need for a female leader to meet the demands of the times.