Political activist, Moon Jae-in, has moved into a virtual tie with Grand NationalNew Frontier Party chairwoman, Park Geun-hye, in a hypothetical head-to-head presidential election.  The latest poll from our friends at Realmeter has Park with 44.3 percent to Moon’s 43.0 percent.

Moon joins software businessman, Ahn Chul-soo, as a leading progressive contender to the conservative Park.  The same poll has Ahn at 49.5 percent to 41.3 percent for Park in a two-way race.  However, part of Ahn’s charm at the moment is that he is remaining aloof of politics and remains a blank canvas upon which members of the public can paint their ideal candidate.  Once he does take the plunge, openly declare his presidential ambitions, and stake out policy positions, he is likely to find much of his support fleeting.

Moon Jae-in is showing renewed strength as a presidential candidate (Naver photo)

Moon is a more satisfying choice than Ahn among politically active progressives because he is a more known figure.  He is a long-time activist and was an ally of former president Roh Moo-hyun who has been working to unify Korea’s often fractured left before legislative elections in April.  That work has given him connections inside most of the major progressive political organizations, something which could help him emerge as a consensus candidate on the left ahead of December’s presidential election.

Moon’s greater depth of support is starting to show in Realmeter’s open presidential preference question, which showed Moon steadily moving up at the expense of Ahn.  The latest numbers available show Ahn at 20.8 percent and Moon at 19.4 percent with Park at 31.3 percent.  The same survey in early January showed Ahn at 27.5 percent and Moon at 8.5 percent with Park at 29.3 percent.  Those numbers indicate that Ahn’s good head-to-head numbers against Park may conceal a softness in his support.

Moon’s strength within progressive political circles and his comparative steadiness in polling make him, rather than Ahn, the most likely progressive opponent of Park Geun-hye in December.