TV show featuring Ahn annoys rivals
By Kim Se-jeong
A scheduled appearance by Ahn Cheol-soo, an IT mogul- turned-professor, on a popular talk show to air tonight, is causing a stir from his rivals in the ruling and opposition parties.
The potential presidential candidate is to appear on “Healing Camp,” an SBS talk show, that was taped on Wednesday. The preview, which was disclosed by the broadcaster, showed that Ahn answered questions raised by the hosts of the show in great detail, including the much-anticipated one regarding whether he will join the presidential race or not.
On Sunday, Cho Dong-won, a chief media officer of the ruling Saenuri Party, said during a briefing that it was unfair for the broadcaster to release the show having Ahn as a guest.
The allegation comes as several presidential hopefuls, including Governor of Gyeonggi Province Kim Moon-soo and Sohn Hak-kyu, a former leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), had asked SBS if the broadcaster had any intention of inviting them on the popular program. They were rejected.
As Ahn is to appear on the show, the presidential hopefuls, who were rejected by the SBS, were wary of the positive spillover effect on Ahn’s ratings after the show.
An aide to Sohn complained it was unfair for the SBS to selectively choose politicians as guests for the show as this could have an effect on the presidential race.
Meanwhile, campaign watchers speculate that the software mogul and professor is already establishing his ground as a presidential candidate, especially after a book was released last week detailing Ahn’s views on key campaign issues.
Last week, Ahn released the book, titled “Ahn Cheol-soo’s Thoughts,” in which he laid out his take on a wide range of issues including equality and North Korea.
According to Wall Street Journal excerpts he said regarding current policy toward North Korea: “Under Lee Myung-bak’s policy, the South and North conflict worsened because the Lee administration only used a whip. The Lee hard-line policy and mechanical insistence on reciprocity seemed to be based on a scenario in which the North would collapse soon. But I don’t think that scenario is persuasive... We need to make a flexible North Korean policy while
maintaining a long-term perspective.”
The first 40,000 copies virtually sold out in a couple of days. Ahn is expected to hold a press conference soon regarding the book, according to an aide but the date has not yet been determined.
After the book’s release, Rep. Moon Jae-in of the DUP said Ahn’s views on many issues are identical to the DUP’s, hinting his wish to have him join the party but Moon is threatened by losing popularity as a consequence of the TV appearance.
Despite this, the opposition camp is annoyed by Ahn’s much-hyped activities, for its preliminary race begins this week to shortlist five presidential contenders.
Some polls indicate that Ahn’s popularity has begun to wane because of his elusiveness on whether he will throw his hat into the ring.
Ahn has risen quickly to political stardom. During the Seoul mayoral election last year his public popularity was unprecedented. After he dropped his candidacy, he shored up support for Park Won-soon, who was eventually voted in.