Ban Ki-moon declares bid for South Korean presidency
Posted : 2016-12-21 16:37
Updated : 2016-12-21 21:47
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks at a valedictory news conference with Korean correspondents at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, Tuesday. / Yonhap
By Kang Seung-woo
Outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon virtually declared his bid to run for South Korea's presidency, Tuesday.
During a meeting with Korean correspondents at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Ban said he will find ways to use his 10 years of experience at the United Nations for his country — the clearest indication yet of his presidential ambitions.
"If what I have seen, learned and felt while in office for 10 years could help develop Korea, I will not spare myself for the country," Ban said.
"I will decide what and how I will contribute after collecting opinions from many people after I return home. The most important thing is citizens' thoughts."
Ban plans to return home after completing his second term as U.N. chief at the end of this year.
Although Ban did not clearly declare his presidential bid, his words were regarded as a de-facto declaration of his intention to run.
"Although I am 73 (next year), I am prepared to devote myself to the country if my health permits," Ban said.
While the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidant Choi Soon-sil is gripping the nation, Ban said Koreans are frustrated and enraged by the "lack of good governance," and the fault lies with the "system and leadership" — an apparent move to distance him from President Park.
The former foreign minister, who has been talked about as a competitive candidate in next year's presidential election for some time, has been rumored to consider running for the presidency under the banner of the ruling Saenuri Party, with President Park and her loyalists backing him.
However, in the wake of the corruption and influence-peddling scandal that brought about the impeachment of the President, Dec. 9, there seems to be little chance that Ban will join the governing party.
Despite his words, Ban failed to elaborate on with whom he will team up with for his presidential run, but was open to banding together with various political groups.
"It is not possible to do politics by myself and there should be some sort of means and vision, but it is difficult, at this time, to say whom I will work with," said the career diplomat, who has no political base in Korea.
"What I can tell you now is that I plan to return home in mid-January and meet leaders from all walks of life (before my final decision)."
In the domestic political spectrum, Ban, regarded as a conservative figure, is anticipated to form an alliance with breakaway lawmakers from the Saenuri Party, who are at odds with the pro-Park faction, or to align with the second-largest opposition People's Party for the election, currently scheduled for December 2017.
Hours after his press conference, 35 anti-Park lawmakers, including former Chairman Kim Moo-sung and former floor leader Yoo Seong-min, announced they were leaving the Saenuri Party. More lawmakers are expected to join them soon.
People's Party interim leader Kim Dong-cheol welcomed a possible alliance with Ban, saying, "I think he can join us."
Ban was elected as the U.N. chief in 2007, with huge support from former President Roh Moo-hyun, but his recent moves linked to Park loyalists drew a backlash from the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, comprised of many of Roh's former aides and followers who denounced him as a traitor.
However, Ban refuted the accusation, dismissing it as a "political offensive."
"It is an insult to me. I cannot accept it," he said.