Possible Presidential Candidate Makes Rare TV Appearance

Ahn laughs during the July 23 episode of “Healing Camp”

Ahn Cheol-soo, best known as the founder of antivirus company Ahnlab, added further fuel to the long running debate about his presidential candidacy with an appearance on the July 23rd episode of the SBS program ‘Healing Camp‘. Ahn has garnered widespread attention ever since he played a kingmaker role in the Seoul mayoral election in 2011 and many consider him a possibility for the presidential race this year. Ahn stands out for his strong support among young Koreans, something that has eluded the established parties.

In recent days, Ahn has released a book describing his opinion on social problems within Korea. The appearance on ‘Healing Camp’, which gives celebrities and public figures in South Korea a place to talk about themselves, is being seen as another indication that he is gathering support for a political move. For a man who has never held elected office, he fares remarkably well in opinion polls that match him against declared candidates, just barely losing to the front runner Park Geun-hye with 45.8% of the vote to her 46.3%.

Reaction to Ahn’s recent moves has ranged from welcoming to scathing, with particular attention on his lack of experience and the fact that he has refused to be clear about his presidential bid.

From The Kyunghyang Newspaper:

Ahn Cheol-soo, neither a progressive nor a conservative ‘I am a man of common sense’… ‘Korea, you cannot go on like this’

Ahn Cheol-soo, Dean of Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, appearing during the July 23rd episode of the SBS program “Healing Camp”, describing his thoughts about the current state of Korean politics and society as well as his difficulty deciding whether to join politics. Ahn also spoke at length about his family and his journey from his early school years to the time of starting his own company.

The television appearance attracted great attention as it was Ahn’s first official airing of his political opinions after the publication on the 19th of his book, “Ahn Cheol-soo’s Thoughts”. If the book can be thought of as an attempt to communicate Ahn’s message through traditional media, the television appearance was a way for him to communicate directly to television audiences.

Ahn refrained from giving a clear answer to the question of whether he would run for president in the upcoming election. Instead, he stated that “there is a need for people to understand the beliefs of those who support me, to find out whether my own positions match the expectations of the public, and to take a step back and judge whether I have the necessary qualifications and abilities.” In order to accomplish these tasks, Ahn said, “a clarification of my thoughts was in order.”

“Our country has fallen off a cliff,” Ahn stated, “we cannot continue like this.” His words seemed to confirm that he is still torn over whether to join the presidential race.

When asked why he had decided to appear on television, Ahn answered “I came because I too am worn out and need ‘healing’. This allows me to be able to start new endeavors… I don’t think at all about the possibility of success in my work. The result could just end up falling out of the sky.” Ahn’s words about not being obsessed over the results of any new endeavors could be interpreted as a comment about the possibility of him making a presidential bid.

[…]

Citing the fact that South Korea’s birth rate is the world’s lowest and that its rate of suicide is among the highest within the OECD, Ahn stated that he is “apprehensive” about the issues that have yet to be solved. He then spent time explaining his concepts of “justice” and “social welfare”.

[…]

To the question of whether he is an advocate of the progressives or conservatives, Ahn answered that “if I had to answer, I would say that I am an advocate of common sense. It seems that people have to judge what is common sense and what is not.” Ahn added “public opinion must be mobilized to enact laws and prevent that which is not common sense.”

Speaking sternly, Ahn addressed the claims that he is “indecisive, wavering, a political gadfly.” “A businessman who is indecisive cannot succeed. I do not believe indecisive is a term that could be applied to my life.” […] In regards to any political analysis of his recent statements “I have never refrained from speaking about what I intend to do. If I intend to do something, then I say so. Rather than reveal what they intend to do, people who are in politics give ambiguous answers and then the press sifts through them to find an intention.”

Mixing his responses with quick wit and humor, Ahn broke the stereotypes of “born genius” and “successful CEO” and displayed his human side. He also opened up about his love for his wife, showing photos of his honeymoon and love letters he wrote while in the army. Ahn appeared to be a considerate husband, making coffee and toast for his wife at home and buying gifts for her online. […]

Comments from Daum:

최홍구:

Ahn Cheol-soo, I agree with what you have to say!

타라:

It would be better if there were more people of common sense in South Korea. I think if it was Moon Jae-in or Ahn Cheol-soo it would be just right…

헉:

These are the thoughts of the people, run for president, then there will be healing

Aquarius:

When I hear talk about a group led by common sense, I feel like it would really fit me well. I want to live in a world ruled by common sense.

꿈을찍는사진사:

There we go~!!!! It seems we have finally found the presidential candidate that we have been waiting for. This is a man operating on a whole different level!!!!
They must be going crazy in the Saenuri Party.

다다다:

Viva President Cheol-soo Ahn!

니나노오:

A smart answer to the silly questions about progressive or conservative

Comments from Chosun Ilbo:

이성관:

This is the state of the people in our country. You make one TV appearance and your support increases by 10%, to be honest, this is just embarassing. The mudslinging and underhandedness of the politicians in this country is all directly connected to the state of the people. We call ourselves citizens, but when we choose our presidents on the basis of a single entertainment program with the all the trappings of a soap opera, it does nothing but make the monkeys laugh. Embarrassing. It is because of things like this that Ahn Cheol-soo considers people ridiculous and is able to do all manner of meaningless things.

김익겸:

Ahn Cheol-soo’s acts make him look like a guerilla. Such a person, far from being elected president, should be deported out of the country. Korea is not the kind of place where such an opportunist can be made a leader.

오종권:

Ahn Cheol-soo, you incite young people and present your opinions, but you bring no alternatives to address the problems you have singled out. How can a man who has never been given a mandate from the people be elected as president? Before going any farther, he needs to be checked out by the people.

최종태:

If you read the book, “Ahn Cheol-soo’s Thoughts”, then you understand what kind of person the man is. The sales figures clearly show that it is popular, but you have to look closely at the text. So many distortions, so many nonsensical theories,… I can’t help but be surprised that such writing would have come from a university professor.

문지홍:

Who is Ahn Cheol-soo? A talented doctor? A successful businessman? A trusted social worker? A fast talking small-timer? A clever politician who knows all the angles? A man skilled at using the media? What is his real background? The jury is still out. Could he perhaps be using this ambiguity itself, the best con artist of his generation?

이건옥:

A planned TV appearance to go with his book release. He may have no intentions to run for president but he’ll be thinking about it if that’s what the people want. Really despicable. He acts innocent, all the while planning his different strategies. It felt like you were watching a con artist who had put on a normal face.

이숙연:

Professor Ahn must be unsettled. Since he doesn’t know when his rising support will subside or if he will be able to run the country well, he must be afraid of making a run for the presidency and failing in the eyes of the people. Afraid also of having his background thoroughly examined.. Even if he makes a presidential bid we should think hard about the fact that he is able to do so without an examination of his background.

백찬홍:

Ahn Cheol-soo may “heal” the people but who are the progressives healing? “not a healing camp for the progressives but a killing field”. A symbol of the insanity and the idiocy.

조은경:

Take a deep breath, it would be great if you weren’t breathing at all. He doesn’t look good. A greasy character…

Comments from Maeil Kyongje:

태광손:

The president is not a celebrity, he isn’t swayed by the words of those at his side, even in a crisis he must have the ability to mobilize Korea. Never wavering, he must have clear convictions. Whether a dictator or not, the most important thing is choosing the people who will be at his side. He must communicate sincerely with the people and not delay turning such practices into policy. We must cast our vote for the person who has sincerity, the person who will win cannot have the character of a procrastinator.

김철철:

Personally I have a good feeling about Ahn Cheol-soo as a politician but I don’t think public opinion will change very much on the basis of a single television appearance. Just what I think ke

Sunup1016:

Even if it was only partially, I think it was good that we were able to see Ahn’s philosophy and outlook on life on “Healing Camp”. But the masses do not read him well. As a result, they will just feel positively toward him or on the other hand just chaotically start negative attacks.

terrorout:

Ahn Cheol-soo is fine but the biggest problem is his mentoring by Buddhist monks. The Jogye Order of Buddhism is nothing less than the religion of the Jongbuk. The “Jongbuk Order” opposes Christianity. The followers of the Order are close with the Democratic Party. This is how the upcoming election stands. Ahn Cheol-soo and Park Won-soon are the lifeline for the Jongbuk Order. Anything other than this would be good…Or else

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  • Ruaraidh

    .5 of a percent in opinion polls often very rapidly expands to a larger gap in actual voting.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    I am definitely sure the time when the soft spoken professor declare his bid for presidency is after two major parties-ruling Saenuri and opposition DUP elect presidential standard bearers.

    The earlier annoucnement than this time could cause a storm of slanders and attacks from rivals.

    From political election engineering’s viewpoint, he wil attempt to grab a pan-opposition presidential candiddacy competing with DUP’s presidential hopeful and a faltering UPP’s candidate.

    • Yu Bumsuk

      If he runs as an independent he’s just going to split the anti-Park opposition. He might steal 5-10% from her but he’ll steal far more from the “Progressive” candidate. It could create another Noh Taewoo scenario.

  • 참을 수 없는 존재의 가벼움

    It the opposition field a joint candidate, he will certaintly make a deep dent in Ms. Park’s popularity rating.

    Four-year nonstop mismanangement of state affairs by the 2MB, infamous for executing political venedetta, will surely give the joint candidate a boost in the presidential election.

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