U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern about the lack of governance in Korea in the wake of the corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her confidant Choi Soon-sil.
In an interview with The Voice of America (VOA), released on Friday, Ban did not mention whether he will run for the presidency when his U.N. tenure ends in December, although he said he will "have to discuss this matter with the leaders of Korean society, my friends, my family."
He also said in a separate interview with Al Jazeera, aired on Friday, "When I return to Korea, I will need to discuss with community leaders and friends about what and how I can contribute as the former secretary-general of the U.N. to my motherland Korea."
The interviews came amid speculation that Ban may try to distance himself from the scandal-ridden Park and her followers following rumors he was backed by Park and her loyalists at the ruling Saenuri Party as a potential presidential candidate next year.
"I know that they are very much frustrated and angry about this lack of good governance," he said in the VOA interview, referring to mass protests across Korea for many weekends straight after the scandal erupted in late October.
"I am sure that (the) Korean people will be able to overcome this crisis as soon as possible."
He continued, "I think Korea has good, resilient and mature democratic institutions, and I only hope that they will be able to overcome this crisis with a sense of the future, a better future for their country, with the maturity of their democracy and wisdom."
"When I retire from this job...then I will have to discuss this matter with the leaders of Korean society, my friends, my family."
In the interview with Al Jazeera, Ban said it was a "great privilege" for him to serve as the U.N. chief for the past 10 years, adding that he will still need to work for international peace and security, sustainable development, human rights as well as other principles and goals of the U.N. after he retires.
"As a private citizen, I will try to continue to raise my voice and contribute whatever I can to help the United Nations. At the same time I will also think about what would be the best way for me to work for my own country."
Some U.N. officials said that Ban will return to Korea in mid-January.
Ban used to lead the polls of potential presidential candidates, but his popularity has fallen since the scandal erupted.
He won support of 18.2 percent in a survey conducted by Realmeter from Nov. 28 to 30, trailing former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, Moon Jae-in, who garnered 20.7 percent. Moon has maintained the lead for five straight weeks since the week of Oct. 31.
Some U.N. sources said last week that Ban does not want to be viewed as being affiliated with a specific political faction.