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2. Ahn Cheol-soo Phenomenon


2. Ahn Cheol-soo Phenomenon
Former Seoul National University Professor Ahn Cheol-soo took the political arena by storm this year. The founder of antivirus software manufacturer, Ahn Lab, emerged as a potential presidential candidate despite having no ties to a political party.

Rumors that Ahn would seek to run in the December presidential race spread fast after he withdrew from the Seoul mayoral race last year. Talk grew stronger when the opposition camp lost the April eleventh general elections.

Ahn did not rush to announce a bid, and instead published a book revealing his political views in July. He also gave lectures as part of efforts to gather public opinion on his views.

The software mogul finally announced his candidacy on September 19th, after Park Geun-hye was chosen to represent the ruling Saenuri Party and Moon Jae-in was selected as the candidate of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP). Public opinion surveys found that Ahn was second to Park in overall approval ratings and finished on top in a hypothetical one-on-one race with the ruling party candidate. His strong popularity came to be described as the “Ahn Cheol-soo wave,” or “Ahn Cheol-soo phenomenon.”

This movement of support for Ahn reflected the people’s hope for fresh, new politics and dissatisfaction with existing political forces.

However, despite his strong popularity, Ahn withdrew from the presidential race on November 22nd after several rounds of negotiations with the main opposition party on fielding a unified opposition candidate fell through.

Although Ahn chose to end his run, the Ahn phenomenon brought about reform in both the Saenuri and DUP. Many also believe that Ahn will continue to experiment with politics in the next administration.

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