Supporters of IT mogul-turned-professor Ahn Cheol-soo lead a launching event for a fan club for Ahn in downtown Seoul, Thursday. Aides to the popular professor, who is viewed as a potential presidential candidate, said he was not associated with the club. / Yonhap
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Supporters of IT mogul-turned professor Ahn Cheol-soo, portrayed as a potential presidential bidder despite his silence on his political ambitions, launched a fan club Thursday in downtown Seoul.
Its name, Na Cheol Soo, stands for “my dream, Cheol-soo’s dream and many others’ dream.” It was launched at the Press Center with some 1,000 people attending. Ahn’s aides denied any link between the fan club and the computer expert.
Prior to the event, Kang In-cheol, a lawyer close to Ahn, said Ahn was not associated with the fan club in any capacity. He cautioned citizens not to be misled by the organization just in case it attempted to fundraise in the Ahn’s name.
But representatives of the fan club denied Kang’s remarks, saying they met Ahn and had discussions with him before launching the group.
Jung Hae-hoon, a former chief campaign strategist handling campaign speeches and rallies for Lee Hoi-chang, a former presidential candidate of the conservative Saenuri Party in 1997 and 2002, is the co-founder of the fan club.
In a radio interview Thursday, Jung rejected allegations that the fan club has no link to Ahn, dean of the Graduate School of Science Technology and Convergence at Seoul National University.
Jung claimed he met Ahn on Jan. 3 and had phone conversations and exchanged emails before launching the group.
He said he teamed up with other experts to launch the fan club in the hope that Ahn will decide to move into politics as soon as possible and that the supporters would help him.
Lee Jang-hie, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Law School, said the group is aimed at helping spread Ahn’s three value priorities of harmony, sharing and a win-win for all community members through the entire community.
Along with Jung, the law professor is a co-representative of Na Cheol Soo.
Some suspect the identity of the fan club because “unusual” figures have joined the group. Experts from various walks of life, including university professors and the former campaign strategist who had worked for the Saenuri Party are members.
Given the composition of the majority of fan clubs for politicians or celebrities, the lineup for Na Cheol Soo is unique.
Some bloggers suspected a possible link between the group and the ruling party.
A blogger with the ID of cheon0216 claimed on Twitter that this is a plot by the conservative party which has seen its ratings fall.
“The Saenuri Party is attempting to have Ahn Cheol-soo in its ranks ahead of the elections,” he wrote.
Some bloggers called for an online campaign to spread the words that the fan club has nothing to do with Ahn.
안철수 서울대 융합과학기술대학원장의 팬클럽이 결성됐다.
안 원장 팬클럽을 표방하는 '나의 꿈, 철수의 꿈, 수많은 사람들의 꿈'(나철수)은 9일 오전 서울프레스센터에서 안 원장 지지자 1천여명이 참석한 가운데 창립대회를 열었다.
나철수는 안 원장과는 무관한 자발적 지지자 모임으로, 향후 안 원장이 정치활동에 참여하게 되면 외곽에서 안 원장을 지원하겠다는 계획을 내놓았다.
나철수는 전문가 집단으로 구성된 '나눔정책연구단'과 봉사단체인 '철수드림나눔단'을 꾸리고 소셜네트워킹서비스(SNS) 센터를 만들어 활동 상황을 전국에 전파하기로 했다.
공동대표인 이장희 한국외대 법학전문대학원 교수는 "기존 정치권이 이 시대의 변화와 정신에 부합하지 않지만 안철수의 꿈은 국민에게 와 닿고 감동을 준다"며 "이 감동을 확산시키기 위해 시민 차원에서 자발적인 봉사단체와 팬클럽을 결성했다"고 말했다.
나철수 결성을 주도한 정해훈 북방권교류협의회 이사장은 "나 자신도 18대 총선 때 한나라당 공천에서 탈락한 경험이 있듯이 기존 정치권의 장벽이 높다 보니 정치 신인이 나오기 어렵다"며 "새로운 분들이 기회를 얻으려는 열망이 큰데 우리는 이 같은 힘을 규합할 것"이라고 강조했다.
한편 안 원장의 측근인 강인철 변호사는 8일 나철수와 관련해 별도 자료를 내고 "안 원장은 물론 안철수재단과 전혀 무관함을 알려드린다"며 팬클럽과 명확히 선을 그었다.