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Asia Minute: Fresh Confusion for Korean Politics

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The future of South Korea’s political leadership has taken a new twist. The country’s president remains suspended, and one of the leading candidates to succeed her has just dropped out of contention. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


South Korea’s political world just lost its most famous potential presidential candidate.

Former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Wednesday that he won’t be running for the country’s highest office.

Ban had said that he wanted to unite a divided country, but he told a hastily called news conference that “I have found political players very selfish, whose mind-sets are stuck in the past. I have come to the conclusion that it is meaningless for me to continue my path with them.”

Ban Ki-moon came home to Korea just three weeks ago after a decade in New York - on a campaign to head the conservative party of President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in December.

The country’s constitutional court is still considering her case.

If she’s removed from office, there will be a presidential election within two months.

Approval ratings slumped badly for the former top official at the U.N. as he toured South Korea over the past few weeks.  But the announcement he was dropping out came as a surprise.

It also does little to clear the country’s confusing political scene.

Earlier this week, when President Donald Trump wanted to talk with the country’s leader, he had to settle for a phone call with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is also the acting president.

He’s a member of President Park’s political party with his own popularity issues.  And a current approval rating of just above 8 percent.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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