The only part the five candidates could recite based on their debate prep was their introduction.
"Only a change in government can build a true nation. The candidate we can rely on to build a legitimate nation is Moon Jae-in."
"If we stop now, there's no future. It is time now to choose a new future that goes beyond even industrialization and democratization. When it comes to regime change we have a better choice."
"Choose left, choose right. In this time of crisis, voting Hong Joon-pyo is the only choice to secure a free Korea."
"I am the one who can carry out fundamental reforms to build a just Korea. I know how to solve problems."
"For so long we’ve voted for the person with a better chance of winning and our lives haven't changed.
We must now vote on the basis of Korea's potential."
To a common question, on how to pressure North Korea's rising aggression the five were on the same page that Seoul must closely coordinate with both Washington and Beijing.
"To avoid an extreme confrontation between North Korea and the U.S., the most important role belongs to China.
If China can rein in North Korea, the U.S. will not strike Pyongyang first."
"China must pressure North Korea much more strongly, including the ban on imports of coal and cutting off oil supplies to Pyongyang."
"By taking a lukewarm stance, China enabled North Korea to go on with its aggression.
China must actively participate in sanctions, realizing that an unstable Korean peninsula is not helpful to its interests."
“I will actively mediate and facilitate so that the U.S. and China can find common ground on guaranteeing peace on the Korean peninsula."
"We must first closely coordinate and cooperate with our ally, the United States.
We must also ensure that our point of view is conveyed sufficiently in that process.”
But for the most of the two-hour free debate, the five questioned each other about controversial pledges and past remarks.
"Doing the bidding of America is not a Korea-U.S. alliance. We must overcome that kind of outdated alliance paradigm -- because the interests of South Korea and the U.S. are not and cannot be the same."
"You don't seem to like my stance. Why don't you question Ahn who has been rather ambiguous?"
"Moon, I don't see it in your pledges. How is it you’re saying you’ll fix the blind spots of our welfare system?"
"The candidates make all these promises without mentioning how they’ll pay for them.
Like the Park Geun-hye campaign in 2012 when she vowed 'welfare without tax hikes.'"
"You cannot lie if you want to be a leader, no matter what urgency may arise."
(Stand-up: ed: jm jenny)
"Pundits often look for a winner and loser in televised debates, but according to some experts viewers experience the debate differently, making two simultaneous judgments: One, whether or not the candidate seems presidential; and two, whether one of the candidates is a better choice.
Two down, a couple more to go for Korea's presidential contenders and less than 20 days left until the election.
Song Ji-sun, Arirang News."