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Ahn Cheol-soo announces his candidacy

It’s official — Ahn Cheol-soo is running for the president. In a highly anticipated press conference, Ahn officially announced his candidacy, saying he will “bear the task of the times given to me.” As to forming a unified ticket with Moon Jae-in, Ahn said the time is not right to discuss the topic yet.

Ahn’s road ahead will not be easy. Thanks to his strong showing in the DUP primaries, Moon’s numbers far surpassed Ahn’s in the latest poll in a head to head match-up — 44.9% to 32.3%. Moon’s numbers went past even Park Geun-hye’s number, 47.1% to 44% in a head-to-head match-up.

  • slim

    How can this be good news for the non-Park Geun-hye camp?

  • cm

    Ahn will split the young liberal votes, as the big chunk of Moon’s votes will go to Ahn. It’s bad news for the pseudo North Korean, slash, Progressive Liberal parties.

    Ahn is just another Roh Moo Hyun type, even worse. You think Roh was inexperienced? Ahn is even more inexperienced. Notice he already promises he’ll cut out the traditional politicking when he appoints his ministers. Good luck, finding experienced candidates who knows what they’re doing, who have no ties with the old politicians and Korea’s traditional politics. The reality is totally difference once you’re in the office. If Ahn isn’t naive fool, then he’s down right dishonest to pedal that. Unfortunately the young Korean voters will eat it all up.

    Read the article on Bloomberg today, South Korea is now one of the most credit worthy country in Asia right now because of the overseas debt level has steadily fallen the last few years. With Ahn’s calls for massive boost to welfare, and the current outlook for Korea which is set to amass debt to GDP ratio of 180% by 2030 (without even increasing spending), look for South Korea’s credit ratings to plunge once again, if Ahn ever gets into power.

  • cm

    make that year 2050, not 2030.

  • iMe

    If he promises to ban Internet Explorer and ActiveX from Korea forever, I will tell everyone I know in Korea to vote for him. Well, that and a few other things of minor importance…

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    How can this be good news for the non-Park Geun-hye camp?

    The assumption is that there will be a unified ticket with MJI.

    With Ahn’s calls for massive boost to welfare, and the current outlook for Korea which is set to amass debt to GDP ratio of 180% by 2030 (without even increasing spending), look for South Korea’s credit ratings to plunge once again, if Ahn ever gets into power.

    Ahn’s campaign promise regarding welfare is substantially the same as Park Geun-hye’s, maybe even a little more conservative.

    But he’s totally communist. Yeah.

  • DLBarch

    Assuming Ahn and Moon work out their differences and present a unified DUP ticket, I don’t see how Moon steps aside and lets Ahn take the nomination.

    Moon has paid his dues throughout the primaries, and now has a commanding position in the polls vis-a-vis Park. In contrast, according to the Asan Institute, Ahn actually continues to poll below Park.

    Ahn still comes across to me as a parvenu. Absent a melt-down by Moon, I just don’t see any clear path for Ahn to the DUP nomination.

    DLB

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Absent a melt-down by Moon, I just don’t see any clear path for Ahn to the DUP nomination.

    Now that Ahn is running, it is ok for me to share this tidbit that might illuminate Ahn’s path –

    The common thought is that MJI’s DUP machine will defeat ACS in any head-to-head primary. But what if the DUP machine does not operate like the way MJI wants to?

    DUP is made up of essentially three factions — the heirs of Roh Moo-hyun (of which MJI is the captain), former NFP members who defected into DUP (captain = Sohn Hak-gyu), and old guard Jeolla-do heirs of Kim Dae-jung (captain = Park Ji-won). As shown in the primaries, the RMH faction pretty much steamrolled the other two, and really pissed them off in the process. There have been a lot of talk about how, as soon as ACS runs, the other two factions of DUP will jump ship to ACS, lending him the organizational firepower that he so desperately needs.

    As MJI and ACS move toward the unified ticket, watch very closely on who is around ACS to help. Although the two factions lost to MJI, perhaps they can reverse the field with ACS as their champion. That’s going to be point to watch in the next two months or so. (With three months left over, I expect they would unify with around a month left.)

  • DLBarch

    BTW, I know political false modesty when I see it, and this deserves the gold medal for unctuousness:

    “The people have expressed their wishes to achieve political reform through me. I’ll run for president to realize their desire.”

    Because, you know, it’s about the people, and not about him at all.

    How conVENient!

    DLB

  • DLBarch

    That’s a very fair analysis, TK, and I am definitely aware of the factions within the DUP.

    But I haven’t seen anything to suggest that the Sohn and Park factions, even acting in concert (which is a huge assumption) could derail the Moon faction.

    What bothers me most, though, is that Moon has been tested in both the trenches of past political battles and the recent primaries, and Ahn has not. In fact, no one really knows whether Ahn has what it takes to effectively campaign as a national candidate.

    That seems like a helluva risk to take, especially against PGH and a very formidable NFP.

    DLB

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    What bothers me most, though, is that Moon has been tested in both the trenches of past political battles and the recent primaries, and Ahn has not. In fact, no one really knows whether Ahn has what it takes to effectively campaign as a national candidate.

    That seems like a helluva risk to take, especially against PGH and a very formidable NFP.

    I agree. I prefer MJI over ACS for exactly that reason also. And with his numbers rising, MJI has proven himself to be someone who is capable of winning. That “winner’s cred” will go a long way as chuseok approaches.

  • DLBarch

    BTW, not to be TOTALLY shallow, but let’s be brutally honest: as someone who sees Korea going through something of a golden age right now, I’d say Moon is EXPONENTIALLY more presidential than the very pudgy and pasty Ahn.

    If I had to have someone stand tall for Korea at any number of international fora, Moon is the obvious choice.

    DLB

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I don’t think Ahn is a communist, he’s just a typical bleeding heart liberal who believes that it is the State’s job to make everyone’s life better. I don’t think he actually has the brains for a real political philosophy.

  • seoulmilk

    I agree completely with #11.

    My gut feeling tells me that ACS is not interested in running for the presidency. Of course, I may be completely wrong, but I think he only cares for his image. After all this time of playing coy, if chose to not run for the presidency, then he would’ve been hit hard in terms of his public image. But it’s a win-win situation for him if he declares for the presidency, and then forge a unified front with MJI, with ACS stepping aside, which I think ACS will do.

    In any event, this is more interesting then the US presidential campaign.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    In any event, this is more interesting then the US presidential campaign.

    You can say that again. I can’t watch U.S. politics — too boring. I need more action.

  • jinu4ever

    Funny how you people can dismiss this guy.

    He’s a doctor, CEO, Board member of POSCO, public speaker, Dean of Faculty. He’s achieved way more than any average politician and he’s still driven for bigger and better things, not for himself but for his country.

    If he wins (because people VOTE for him) doesn’t that say more for the current state of Korean politics than himself?

    So what sort of experience do you need to become a president? LMB was so experienced but he couldn’t stop 100k people demonstrating for weeks , RMH was so experienced in politics yet he was nearly impeached and got nothing done. Let’s look at USA. Obama was so experienced but doesn’t know what to do about 9% unemplyment rate, Bush was so experienced that he kept America safe from terrorism…NOT! Clinton was so experienced but he couldn’t help himself with Monica. So, exactly how does experience count to being a good President?

    It’s about time Korea allocates resources to welfare where most needed- who’s gonna support the ageing population? It’s about time Korean politics talk about “fair-go” as they do Down Under, it’s about time we talk about the steps to achieve unification. I believe that no politicker will please the North.

    I support MJI for his dignity and willingness to continue RMH’s legacy, and I support PGH for her willingness to explore the middle ground. So it’s going to be a good race.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    he’s a CEO of a company that makes garbage vaccines. Everyone in this country with any sort of business calls himself a CEO. But we can still give the guy credit for business smarts and dismiss him on other fronts. I think he would be a horrible president from what I’ve read of his views, and his desire to make Korea into a nanny welfare state. That’s just me, but when I read the interview with him, he came across as extremely shallow and as someone who has not thought his position through, a populist who has bought his own populism.

    RMH’s legacy is what, exactly? Has there been a more useless president or one who has done more damage to the country than Roh? His last act was his only good act.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Has there been a more useless president or one who has done more damage to the country than Roh?

    What was the damage caused by Roh? Whatever it is, it surely does not compare to the mass murders committed under the dictator-presidents.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Roh caused nearly unfixable damage to the ROK-US alliance and, even if he did not sow the seeds of hatred for the US, he sure as hell watered them and applied plenty of fertilizer to them. I lived in Korea through his entire presidency, it was strange to see what was supposed to be an ally of the US seem more like an ally of North Korea instead.

  • cm

    Most Koreans don’t even know where Ahn stands in terms of issues, but they still support him because you know, he’s anti-establishment. Korean elections still rely more on personality cult, than substance. I have to give credit to Ahn though. He waited and bided his time until the very end, before he announced his presidential bid. That way, there won’t be any time for people to ask questions, and he needing to answer them. He can just ride his populism to office.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Roh caused nearly unfixable damage to the ROK-US alliance and, even if he did not sow the seeds of hatred for the US, he sure as hell watered them and applied plenty of fertilizer to them.

    Even if this were entirely true (it’s not,) you are saying this is worse than mass murder?

  • cm

    “if this were entirely true”???

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I said president because I consider only those who are elected democratically as presidents. So among the elected presidents, I would say Roh’s legacy is the worst one: considerable damage was done (and far more attempted) and nothing good was accomplished to off-set it. But even if you compare him to Park, Roh actively sought to undermine the US-ROK alliance and to push the ROK into North Korea’s orbit of influence; as bad as the things Park did were, he did so much for this country that Roh could never begin to approach him, one of those things being strengthening the resolve of the ROK to oppose North Korea. It often seemed Roh was actively undermining his country to the advantage of the enemy.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    I said president because I consider only those who are elected democratically as presidents.

    Fair distinction. So we are basically talking about 3 or 4 guys. (Not sure if you would count Roh Tae-woo there. If RTW is included, there is still a mass murderer.) If we are choosing among Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, it’s fair to say that RMH comes in last. I would put KYS last, but a reasonable case can be made that RMH was worse than KYS.

    As to how you get to that conclusion, however, that’s another thing entirely — I would suggest studying the RMH era a little more closely. The man had his faults, but overall he did just fine.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    I guess I could include Lee Myeong-bak too, since he is about to finish his presidency. Among the democratically elected presidents, I would go KDJ – RMH – KYS – LMB.