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S. Korean ex-auditor enters presidential race from opposition

This screenshot image shows Choe Jae Hyeong, former chief of South Korea's state audit agency, speaking during an online press conference on Aug. 4, 2021. (Kyodo)

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- The former chief of South Korea's state audit agency declared his presidential bid on Wednesday, joining the race to determine the candidate from the main opposition party along with his far more popular rival, former Prosecutor General Yoon Suk Yeol.

    Choe Jae Hyeong is reportedly a "Plan B" candidate for the conservative People Power Party should Yoon face difficulties running in the March election due to some scandal. The party plans to decide on its candidate in November.

    Choe's announcement came after he stepped down as chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection in June following a clash with the government and ruling camp over nuclear power policy.

    "As a South Korean, I just could not watch our nation collapse," the former judge told an online press conference, saying that as president, he would re-examine the nation's energy policy, including planned transition away from nuclear power.

    Choe also emphasized the need to strengthen national security based on a firm alliance with the United States, while expressing willingness to work on improving frayed ties with Japan.

    On the liberal side, Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae Myung and former Prime Minister Lee Nak Yon are the two main figures vying to succeed President Moon Jae In by becoming the ruling Democratic Party nominee and winning the election.

    Presidents can serve one five-year term in South Korea, and Moon's term is ending in May.

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