Published: Thu, February 02, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Former UN Chief Ban Not Running for South Korea President

Former UN Chief Ban Not Running for South Korea President

Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday renounced his presidential ambitions in a surprise decision likely caused by political offensives from rivals and a corruption scandal involving his family members.

Ban, during a hastily arranged news conference, said he was disappointed by the country's political establishment.

"I will give up my pure aspiration to achieve a change in politics under my leadership and unify the country", Ban added.

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South Korea is now in the middle of a political crisis after President Park Geun-hye was embroiled in a corruption scandal and underwent an impeachment trial earlier this month.

If the impeachment vote is upheld by the Constitutional Court, she will have to quit and an election would be held two months later. Park, despite denying having played a part in corruption, apologised for her close relationship with Choi, the daughter of a religious sect leader.

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Ban, whose approval ratings have steadily fallen since his return to South Korea last month, cited "fake news" about him and his family among the reasons for his decision.

The media leapt on a series of minor blunders, for instance when he took the airport express train instead of a limo on his return to South Korea, but didn't know how to buy a ticket.

Another bribery case involving his brother and nephew has emerged as another dispiriting setback for Ban.

The Journal said Ban's departure would likely lead to the rise of the top opposition candidate Moon Jae-In, who has called for stronger North Korea ties, a renegotiation of a missile defense system there supported by the United States, and reeling in local business giants Samsung and Hyundai.

The media coverage and his family scandals have led to a fall in Ban's support rating to second place behind the presidential candidate of the main opposition Democratic Party - Moon Jae-in, after peaking at almost 30 per cent past year.

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