By Kang Seung-woo
Whether former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will create a new party or join an existing party for his presidential campaign is drawing keen attention as Ban will return home today.
Speculation is rampant over Ban's future course of action.
"Ban is likely to strategically seek a tie-up with like-minded politicians (in the third political zone)," said Yoon Tae-gon, a senior political analyst at Moa Agenda Strategy.
The term refers to a group of politicians who are not anchored in the political mainstream, but can appeal to a growing number of voters disgruntled with establishment politics.
Among candidates who might join a possible coalition are Sohn Hak-kyu, a former opposition leader; Ahn Cheon-soo, a former co-chairman of the minor opposition People's Party; and Kim Chong-in, a former interim leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea (DPK).
Shin Yul, a political science professor at Myongji University, also raised the possibility of Ban creating a "big tent" by recruiting high-profile presidential hopefuls excluding those loyal to former DPK Chairman Moon Jae-in and President Park Geun-hye at the Saenuri Party.
"Ban may create a big tent with Sohn and those from the People's Party and the Righteous Party to pick a presidential candidate via an open primary," Shin said.
Earlier this month, Ban also hinted that he was interested in the idea.
"What is more desirable is to exchange opinions with a broad group of people," he said in response to a question on whether he believes a broad political alliance is necessary.
However, Bae Jong-chan, the chief director of political pollster Research and Research, said Ban, a leading conservative candidate in polls, may enter the Righteous Party, which broke away from the ruling Saenuri Party last month.
"Despite interim leader In Myung-jin's reform drive, it will not be easy for the scandal-stricken Saenuri Party to regain public confidence. In addition, when the Constitutional Court's rule on Park's impeachment draws closer, the Righteous Party is expected to emerge as the No. 1 conservative party," he said.
"When it reaches that point, Ban may enter the conservative party."
As for the big tent, it is questionable for the politicians to coordinate on their respective wide-ranging opinions, according to Bae.
Political analysts believe that Ban may not seek to create his own party to run in the election, citing a lack of time.
"It is physically impossible as there is not enough time to create a new party and prepare for the election," said Yoon.
Oh Joon, Seoul's former ambassador to the United Nations who is close to Ban, also said in a media interview, Wednesday, that Ban may not create a new party but meet with existing parties.
Meanwhile, a number of officials who worked for the former Lee Myung-bak administration are joining Ban's camp.
According to Lee Do-woon, the leader of Ban's supporters, Kwak Seung-joon, an economics professor at Korea University who served as the head of the Presidential Council for Future and Vision, will lead Ban's economic team.
In addition, Lee Dong-kwan, a former presidential spokesman and chief press secretary; Kim Doo-woo, Lee's former senior secretary for political affairs; and Sohn Jie-ae, a former CNN bureau chief who served as secretary for overseas public relations, may join the former U.N. chief, as well.