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SEOUL, South Korea – Outspoken former South Korean governor Hong Joon-pyo touts himself as a strongman and is looking to win an upset in Tuesday's election — and lift conservatives from a freefall.
Hong represents ousted President Park Geun-hye's Liberty Korea Party, and is perhaps the most surprising development of the two-month presidential race following Park's removal in March.
His rise shows that despite the street protests by millions that triggered Park's ouster on corruption charges, South Korea remains deeply split over its future, something that will likely hamper whoever becomes its next leader.
Hong has been riding the public's growing fear over North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles. He also says he can hold his own against other "nationalist" leaders in Washington, Tokyo and Beijing.