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World News

FACTBOX - South Korea's presidential favourite Lee

(Reuters) - South Korea’s main conservative party candidate Lee Myung-bak is running far ahead in opinion polls as the clear favourite to be elected president on Wednesday.

Following are some facts about Lee and his policy positions:

BIOGRAPHY

- Born December 19, 1941 to a poor rural family.

- Attended Korea University; served a brief prison stint for his work as a student activist and landed a job at Hyundai Construction. He became its CEO when he was 36 and later led several parts of the Hyundai Group. His life story became part a popular local TV drama about the country’s business heroes.

- He turned to politics when he was in his 50s and was elected to the National Assembly for the first time in 1992.

- Took office as mayor of Seoul in July 2002. Built several major projects, including a river park in the centre of the city after tearing down an elevated highway.

- As president, Lee says he would restore the market economy, make it easier for overseas businesses to invest in South Korea and curb unlawful labour protests.

POLICIES

- His “Korea 747 Vision” plan aims to have annual growth of 7 percent, double per capita GDP to $40,000 (20,000 pounds) and make South Korea the world’s seventh-largest economy (currently 13th).

- Lee wants to speed deregulation, cut corporate tax and develop a comprehensive market-based plan to cool the country’s overheated real estate market.

- Lee said South Korea should not go it alone with aid to North Korea but tie it to the international campaign to make the communist state completely give up nuclear weapons.

- To entice Pyongyang, Lee wants to build five free economic zones in the communist North, restore the North’s infrastructure and create a $40 billion international development fund for it.

- Lee wants to strengthen a security alliance with United States and improve ties with Japan, China and Russia.

- Plans on building a waterway at a cost of about $15 billion from the south of the country to the north, connecting Seoul and Busan, that would be used for the transport of goods, as well as flood control.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Jessica Kim; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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