By Kang Hyun-kyung
Ahn Cheol-soo, founder of the anti-virus software firm AhnLab, said that he would definitely vote for Park Won-soon, a unified candidate running in the Seoul mayoral race on behalf of the opposition camp.
Ahn, also dean of Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence and Technology, said he hopes Park wins the race by launching an effective campaign against his rival Na Kyung-won.
He made the remarks Sunday during an event to celebrate the publishing of a book written by his friend Park Kyung-cheol. widely known as a “countryside doctor.”
The computer genius’s supportive remarks came at a time when the gap between Park and Na, the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) candidate, has narrowed in recent polls.
Results show Park, a former civic group activist, is the front runner, followed by Na. Park’s ratings soared after Ahn dropped out of the race to support him.
The latest survey saw the gap between Park and Na is decreasing as the election nears.
Results from a Korea Society Opinion Institute survey released Monday show Park is leading with a margin of six percentage points. Before the poll, the average gap between Park and Na was nearly 10 percentage points.
Park is fighting allegations that he received excessive donations from conglomerates when he led the Hope Institute and the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy.
Park has denied the claims, saying he did his job as a fundraiser and donations from conglomerates didn’t affect his organization’s watchdog activities.
GNP Chairman Hong Joon-pyo, has made fresh allegations over Park’s military record, which have again been denied by the independent candidate.
Pollsters say despite his denials, his ratings were negatively affected after his ethics have been questioned over the past weeks.
Analysts say the narrowing gap between Park and Na could motivate Ahn to join the Park camp to help his campaign. But Ahn remained silent over this possibility.
Earlier, Ahn said he would not directly get involved in the campaign for Park, although he backed the unified opposition candidate. He said he didn’t want to be distracted as he is a professor with a responsibility to teach university students.
Despite his earlier commitment, campaign watchers didn’t rule out the possibility that Ahn could be more active in his support for Park in the hope the former civic group leader wins the election.
Under election law, Ahn can join the Park camp, make campaign speeches and even affiliate with a political party as a member.
An official of the National Election Commission said although Ahn is technically a civil servant because he is working at a national university, he can campaign for a candidate in an election.
Government officials, military personnel and foreigners are strictly prohibited from being involved in campaigns but this rule doesn’t apply to university professors, he said.