S. Korea opposition candidate closes poll gap, pledges jobs

South Korea's presidential candidate Moon Jae In (right) of the main opposition Democratic United Party attends his campaign rally with former independent presidential candidate Ahn Cheol Soo in Daejeon on Dec 13, 2012. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - Running a close second in opinion polls, South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae In announced on Thursday plans for a 20 trillion won (S$23 billion) jobs package in a bid to close the gap six days before the election.

South Korea bans the publication of opinion polls from Thursday and Mr Moon, the left-wing opposition challenger to conservative Park Geun Hye, was 1.5-3.5 percentage points behind, compared with a gap of up to 7.5 points a week ago.

Mr Moon's gains came after independent candidate Ahn Cheol Soo dropped out of the running and threw his support behind Mr Moon's bid to beat Ms Park, the daughter of South Korea's former dictator Park Chung Hee, in the Dec 19 vote.

"Growth, welfare, economic democracy all start from jobs and are for the sake of jobs," Mr Moon told reporters after announcing his plan which included a promise to raise the minimum wage and halve the number of temporary workers in the private sector.