* Left winger Moon closes gap in South Korean presidential
* Moon pledges jobs package
* North Korean rocket launch not a major factor
SEOUL, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Running a close second in opinion
polls, South Korean presidential candidate Moon Jae-in announced
on Thursday plans for a 20 trillion won ($18.60 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 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.
Moon's gains came after independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo
dropped out of the running and threw his support behind Moon's
bid to beat 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," 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.
Pollster Realmeter showed Park was polling 48 percent while
Moon was on 47.5 percent, putting the gap well within the margin
"The fact that there is no major third candidate in this
election has made the race even more competitive," said Lee Taek
Soo, head of Realmeter.
Moon's jobs package would come on top of the government's
342.5 trillion won spending plan for next year that has been
submitted to parliament.
Park, in contrast, has not called for any additional
The economy has been the main issue in the election campaign
and a surprise rocket launch on Wednesday by rival North Korea
appeared to have had little impact on voters.
A poll published by broadcaster SBS showed that just 4.2
percent of respondents said North Korea-related issues linked to
the launch could influence their vote.
A separate poll by the Asan Institute think-tank showed that
the launch of the rocket, which critics say is aimed at
developing a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear
weapon, had triggered a small rise in support for Park.
The Asan poll showed that 44.8 percent of respondents cited
Park as most capable of dealing with the North while 40.6
($1 = 1,075.0000 Korean won)
(Reporting By Se Young Lee and Narae Kim; Editing by Robert