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Progressive South Korean governor vows to tackle inequality in presidential bid

Progressive South Korean governor vows to tackle inequality in presidential bid
South Korea's Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung launched his presidential bid Thursday in a prerecorded video statement. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

July 1 (UPI) -- A left-wing South Korean politician launched his presidential bid Thursday, vowing to "quash the powerful and help the vulnerable."

Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, 56, said in a prerecorded, 14-minute video statement that socioeconomic disparities in South Korea must be addressed so that "everyone prospers together," local network YTN reported.

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"Society has a future only when people or regions don't get to suffer a loss for abiding by the rules, the opportunities are fair, and a reasonable reward is given as the result of fair competition," Lee said, according to Yonhap.

The South Korean politician also said he would implement forceful economic policies to stimulate new growth.

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"I will immediately launch a powerful economic revival plan that will turn a crisis of paradigm shift into a chance for another leap forward," Lee said. "Moving into innovative future-oriented economic industries ... will increase the creation of quality jobs and replenish state finances to lay the ground for a country with universal welfare.

"I have only made promises I intend to keep, and I have kept promises I have made."

Lee said he advocates universal basic income and building a "society where anyone can enjoy minimum economic prosperity and pursue jobs they want."

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Segye Ilbo reported Thursday that Lee's approach to the South Korean economy draws its inspiration from U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, citing sources from Lee's campaign. Roosevelt's New Deal provided relief for the unemployed and launched reforms including universal retirement pensions.

"It is because of inequity and inequality that we suffer from low growth despite having more capital, better technology, a better workforce and stronger infrastructure than ever before," Lee said, referring to problems dogging South Korea's economy.

Lee is expected to continue a policy of engagement with North Korea, the report also said.

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Local pollster Realmeter showed support for Lee at 22.8% last week, trailing behind former prosecutor Yoon Seok-youl at 32.3%.

Yoon launched his presidential bid Tuesday.

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