The campaign period for the June 4th local elections began Thursday but candidates have been encouraged to tone down their campaigns in light of the ferry disaster.
Both the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, or NPAD, consider the elections an opportunity to gain the upper hand.
The June 4th poll will see 3-thousand 9-hundred fifty-two local administrative and legislative positions filled.
Incumbent Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon of the main opposition party, who is running against the ruling party's Chung Mong-joon, started his campaign at Seoul's busy Gangnam Station where he greeted commuters.
"Koreans,especially Seoul citizens, start their hard life from the morningcramming into subway trains. There is a problem with the quality of people's lives."
Meanwhile, Chung Mong-joon also took time to look around the Seoul subway facilities.
"The Seoul subway's air quality is important to Seoul citizens' health. We must improve the air quality in Seoul's subway system."
The candidates are expected to focus heavily on safety-related pledges to win support from a public disappointed and frustrated with the government's handling of the ferry disaster.
The ruling Saenuri Party is adopting an apologetic approach.
The NPAD is expected to stress the government's lack of competence in safety management.
The main opposition candidates are hoping to draw voters away from the conservatives to send a clear message to the Park Geun-hye administration.
In the latest polls, the ruling party is lagging behind the main opposition party in key regions such as Seoul and the western port city of Incheon.
Ruling party candidates have seen their support crumble in the wake of the ferry disaster.
Ji Myung-kil, Arirang News.