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People's Party chief changes attitude on Ban Ki-moon

Posted January. 19, 2017 07:07,   

Updated January. 19, 2017 07:17

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The leader of the minor opposition People's Party has completely changed his attitude toward former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to his party.

Appearing on a radio talk show on Wednesday, Park Jie-won, the party's chairman, said that Ban and his party have "drifted too far away" from each other to join hands. "It would be no exaggeration to say that the door is almost closed," Park said. “Ban has been making a series of remarks suggesting the former U.N. chief would succeed to President Park Geun-hye.

Park also claimed that Ban is "not prepared enough" to run for president, pointing out that Ban avoided answering a sensitive ideological question from reporters at the May 18th National Cemetery, which honors those killed by government troops during the May 1980 pro-democracy movement in Gwangju. Citing Ban's expression‎ of hope that President Park will cope well with her impeachment during a telephone conversation with the impeached president, Park argued Ban had revealed his hope for the president's reinstatement.

Some observers say Park started to attack Ban, who is seen likely to join the ruling camp, while some others say Park was trying to "tame" Ban, who has yet to decide which party he will join.

Still, the People's Party leader left the possibility open for Ban to join it, saying that his party is an "open" party based on party platforms. He said one of Ban's aides contacted him to asking Park not be too tough on the ex-U.N. chief. The remarks reflect the reality, in which Ahn Chul-soo, the party's presidential contender and former chief, is seeing his popularity remaining low.

Ahn, whose support base overlaps with Ban's, is trying to ignore Ban's presidential ambition. During a visit to Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Ahn claimed that Ban will not win the presidential election against Moon Jae-in, the favorite presidential runner of the main opposition Democratic Party and that Ban will drop out the race after the Lunar New Year's holiday. Ahn also criticized Ban for being too ambiguous on many issues, including whether he would run for president.



Hyung-Jun Hwang constant25@donga.com