(LEAD) Former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun drops out of ruling party's primary race

장동우 / 2021-09-13 17:32:24
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(LEAD) former PM-ruling party primary
▲ Chung Sye-kyun, former prime minister and presidential hopeful, holds a press conference on Sept. 13, 2021, at the National Assembly in Seoul, announcing the end of his presidential primary race of the ruling Democratic Party. (Yonhap)

(LEAD) former PM-ruling party primary

(LEAD) Former Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun drops out of ruling party's primary race

(ATTN: REWRITES headline, lead; UPDATES with more details throughout; CHANGES photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- Chung Sye-kyun, former prime minister and presidential hopeful, on Monday dropped out of the primary race of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), following weaker-than-expected results in the latest primary voting over the weekend.

In a press conference held at the National Assembly, the former business executive-turned-politician announced that he decided to end his campaign and "return to being a grassroots party member and serving in the common ranks for the unity of the DP."

Chung, a former six-term lawmaker, stepped down as prime minister in April after serving a 15-month stint, mainly preoccupied with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision came after Chung finished fourth in Sunday's regional primary vote in the eastern province of Gangwon, falling out of the so-called big 3 threshold, after being outstripped by former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae.

"I made the decision after holding long discussions with lawmakers who campaigned with me," Chung said when asked why he decided to quit the race. "It is something that I have deliberated throughout the regional primary votes," he added.

Chung sidestepped questions on whether he plans to endorse another primary candidate, saying that he was a "consistent supporter of the DP."

A former parliamentary speaker, Chung ended his presidential bid in 88 days after announcing his campaign in June. Earlier in the race, he unified his candidacy with Rep. Lee Kwang-jae, a three-term lawmaker who in the past worked closely with former President Roh Moo-hyun.

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