Ex-UN chief aban­dons bid for pres­i­dency of South Korea


For­mer United Na­tions sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ban Ki­moon abruptly ended his at­tempt to seek South Korea’s pres­i­dency on Wed­nes­day, drop­ping a life­time of diplo­macy to de­nounce his coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment.

Ban, 72, re­turned home last month after a decade in New York and was widely ex­pected to run in elec­tions due this year, but his an­tic­i­pated can­di­dacy ran into a series of stum­bles and he strug­gled for back­ing.

“I will give up my pure in­ten­tion to bring about a change in pol­i­tics un­der my lead­er­ship and to unify the coun­try,” he said at a news con­fer­ence. “I’m sorry for dis­ap­point­ing many peo­ple.”

His sup­port in pub­lic opin­ion polls had rapidly de­clined from 20.3 per­cent when he re­turned to 13.1 per­cent be­fore his an­nounce­ment.

Al­though he never of­fi­cially de­clared he was run­ning, the for­mer UN chief em­barked on a series of pub­lic ap­pear­ances.

But he strug­gled to se­cure party back­ing in South Korea’s highly par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, and cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions were made against some of his rel­a­tives.

Pic­tures of him try­ing to put two bank notes into a ticket ma­chine at the same time made him ap­pear out of touch.

“My pure pa­tri­o­tism and as­pi­ra­tions have fallen vic­tim to slan­der that was close to char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion,” he said Wed­nes­day, be­fore bow­ing briefly, shuf­fling his pa­pers and leav­ing the stage to a bar­rage of cam­era flashes.

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