|Moon Jae-in (C) of South Korea's center-left main opposition Democratic United Party waves to his supporters after he was elected as presidential candidate of his party in Goyang, South Korea, Sept. 16, 2012. Moon Jae-in of South Korea's center-left main opposition Democratic United Party on Sunday won the party's nomination for its presidential candidate. (Xinhua/Park Jin hee)
SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Moon Jae-in of South Korea's center- left main opposition Democratic United Party on Sunday won the party's nomination for its presidential candidate.
The first-term lawmaker clinched his 13th straight win in the Seoul primary after sweeping three-week-long regional primaries, earning a total of 56.52 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off.
Former party leader Sohn Hak-kyu finished second with a total of 22.2 percent. Also-rans, former Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Du-kwan and former party chairman Chung Se-kyun, came in third and fourth, respectively.
"I will launch a new era of change," Moon said in his acceptance speech to loud cheers from supporters. "I will put people first -- this will be the administrative philosophy during my presidency."
The 59-year-old's pledges included job creation, welfare expansion and economic democratization -- the three big buzzwords even traditionally deficit-wary conservatives like to cite.
He was also determinedly dovish on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), offering to invite the DPRK leader to the presidential inauguration and propose inter-Korean talks within the first year of his presidency.
Moon, a human rights lawyer who went on to serve as a chief of staff to late President Roh Moo-hyun, won his first parliamentary seat in the conservative stronghold of Busan in April.
The soft-spoken liberal's reluctant entry into the local political scene was spurred by Roh's supporters who blame his 2009 suicide on what they call a politically motivated investigation initiated by Roh's conservative successor, Lee Myung-bak.
Standing in Moon's way is Park Geun-hye of the conservative ruling Saenuri Party, who has long led opinion polls for the crucial Dec. 19 presidential election. She is the daughter of former military strongman Park Chung-hee, whose 18-year authoritarian rule is still subject to partisan dispute.
Moon took a jab at both in his acceptance speech, accusing them of turning back the clock on democracy and attributing his decision to run for president to the remorse he felt for letting the conservatives come to power.
The biggest challenge before Moon faces off Park remains whether he can join forces with Ahn Cheol-soo, an entrepreneur- turned-professor popular among moderates and independents.
Ahn, who is expected to declare his presidential bid soon, can potentially steal Moon's thunder if he eventually decides to run, observers say.
Moon has publicly suggested a coalition government with Ahn, a political novice yet to be affiliated with a political party, a bid to consolidate their support bases.