Ahn Cheol-soo aftershock
Ahn Cheol-soo seems to be aware of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s words, “Politics is almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once but in politics multiple times.” With a graceful exit from the mayoral race, the famed software mogul managed to avoid the possible damage that might have been in store if he had entered into real politics.
It was a suprise to see Ahn, who enjoyed more than 40 percent popularity rate in various surveys as the most desirable candidate, give way to Park Won-soon, a civil activist, for the Seoul mayoral election. Ahn’s move deeply impressed the people again as they have never witnessed such scenes in the political sphere. Park described it as a beautiful event rarely seen in the past. It was all the more poignant as it came after Ahn caught the nation off guard with the phenomenal victorious outcome of the opinion polls.
Despite his withdrawal from the mayoral race, Ahn has emerged stronger with various polls showing he is running ahead of other potential candidates for the presidential election slated for December, 2012, even outmaneuvering Rep. Park Geun-hye, former chairwoman of the governing Grand National Party (GNP). For Park this might be a nightmare as she has long enjoyed wide support as the frontrunner, far ahead of others.
The lingering Ahn Cheol-soo phenomenon is an expression of extreme discontent with current politics swayed by major parties. It is basic political science theory that a country’s politics is subject to the level of the people’s consciousness and the politicians are supposed to modify their allegedly wrong practices in tandem with the voters’ demand for better politics.
Korea is one of the most educated nations in the world. The people’s level of consciousness has been rapidly upgraded given widespread Internet access coupled with other social networks. In contrast, the political circle has largely failed to catch up with the fast changing social climate. Politicians have become engrossed in life-or-death power struggles while neglecting the livelihoods of the ordinary people.
While backing down from the mayoral race, Ahn said the expectations of the people were not wholly for him. It was rather an expression of enthusiasm toward a desirable leadership of our society, according to Ahn. He gained public trust with a sacrificial spirit through the free distribution of computer vaccine programs and company shares to employees.
On the other side of such acclaims for Ahn, critics cast doubts on the reason he threw his hat into the ring if he simply discarded the mayoral bid in such a short span of time. Also in doubt is whether the popularity of Ahn will pass to Park despite Ahn’s proclaimed support for the human rights advocate. It is not desirable for Park to strongly stick to the mayoral post in defiance of his minimal support rate.
As politics is like a living creature, it remains to be seen whether the recent mayoral candidacy coalition will bear fruit or not. But what is certain is that Ahn has already become a big name in the political world with the possibility of determining the forthcoming parliamentary elections in April and presidential voting in December next year. Ahn is denying his possible presidential ambition but the political parties will likely attempt to induce him as the elections draw near.
Regardless of his future ambition, Ahn managed to rattle the political circle, promoting the hitherto selfish and greedy politicians to pay more heed to people’s livelihoods instead of caring for their own interests, as seen in the bids to protect Rep. Kang Yong-seok who had been accused of making sexist remarks.
Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev described politicians as those who “promise to build a bridge where there is no river. His remark suit domestic politicians tainted with outdated wrongful deeds.”
As Ahn put emphasis on common sense, rather than the ideological differences between conservatives and progressives, he needs to continue to show exemplary deeds based on reasonability, warm-heartedness and a humble mindset. That is the way he can keep himself alive and wield greater and more positive influences upon the whole of society.