Ex-UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon Returns to South Korea, Hints at Presidential Bid
Former United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon returned to his native South Korea on Thursday, arriving in the middle of an increasingly tense battle to succeed the country's recently impeached President Park Geun-Hye.
Ban's poll ratings have been high for long, but perceptions that his policies could be aligned with President Park Geun-Hye's corruption-tainted government has seen his support get eroded.
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"I have already said I am willing to give my all for the country, and my determination remains unchanged," Ban said to an enthusiastic crowd at Incheon International Airport, with his speech being interrupted by a crowd of admirers chanting of "Ban Ki-Moon."
Ban is yet to officially declare his candidacy in the Presidential race and said that he will make a decision on his political future soon, noting that the decision will not be made for personal gain.
In anticipation of his return to South Korea, Ban's rivals have been snapping at him. Oppositions are exploiting the perception that he is an elite old-guard bureaucrat who is out of touch with voter grievances such as corruption, slowing economic growth, youth unemployment, and the country's powerful conglomerates.
Late last year, the wide-ranging grievance sparked mass demonstrations. Furthermore, last Tuesday's indictment of Ban's brother and nephew in a Manhattan court over a foreign corruption case could further harm his presidential ambitions.
Ban said that he has dedicated his life to public service and has nothing to be ashamed of it.
Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea, believes that Ban is a bureaucrat of the old school and that is not the kind of leader that South Koreans want to elect for now.
Meanwhile, Ban is set to receive the Order of Civil Merit, one of South Korea's highest civilian honors, confirming his ties to South Korea's political elite.