Moon Jae-in, former head of the Democratic Party, broadened the gap with South Chungcheong Gov. An Hee-jung in an opinion poll among presidential hopefuls, apparently due to a controversial remark made by the regional administrator on President Park Geun-hye.
According to the poll conducted by Realmeter, Moon posted an approval rating of 32.4 percent this week, edging down 0.1 percentage point from a week earlier. The survey was conducted on 1,508 South Koreans with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
An, on the other hand, lost 1.2 percentage points over the cited period, posting a 13.2-percentage-point gap with the front runner.
Pundits said the decline apparently came after An said earlier that Park, as well as former President Lee Myung-bak, intended to come up with reasonable policies, although they did not follow rules and set systems.
"They had good intentions for the have-nots and the people, but things did not work out as they intended," An said on Sunday. The remark sparked criticism from the progressive bloc, which eventually led him to express an apology earlier this week.
Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn posted an approval rating of 11.6 percent, down 3.2 percentage points on-week. Despite being the only significant conservative figure in the poll, Hwang also lost ground amid the controversy over the extension of the special probe against Park.
While the term of the independent counsel looking into the corruption scandal of Park ends this month, Hwang has the authority to extend the period by a month. The opposition bloc is currently demanding that the acting president promptly give the approval, but Hwang has remained silent on the issue.
Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party trailed at 10.5 percent, with Seongnam Mayor Lee Jae-myung's approval rating reaching 10.1 percent. Rep. Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party posted 3.3 percent.
By party, the Democratic Party continued to lead the poll at 45.4 percent, followed by the ruling Liberty Korea Party with 13.4 percent and the People's Party with 12.2 percent. The latest survey showed Bareun Party and Justice Party having an approval rating of 6.3 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively. (Yonhap)