Ahn Cheol-soo Gains Conservative Voters As He Catches Front Runner In ROK Presidential Polls

According to the article Ahn Cheol-soo is attracting conservative voters who have no other viable candidate to vote for in the upcoming ROK presidential election:

Ahn Cheol-soo

Presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party has knocked frontrunner Moon Jae-in of the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) off the top spot in several poll results released Sunday, a month before the May 9 election.

Moon, who had been leading the polls for months, slipped back to 32.7 percent as Ahn gained 36.8 percent in a poll conducted by Korea Research Center.

In the hypothetical two-way competition, Ahn beat Moon by over 10 percentage points, with 49.4 percent to Moon’s 36.2 percent.

Ahn was also neck and neck with Moon in other polls.

Another poll conducted by Hankook Research on the commission of Hankook Ilbo, the sister paper of The Korea Times, showed Moon gained 37.7 percent, and Ahn was on his heels, having 37 percent.  [Korea Times]

You can read much more at the link, but to woo conservative voters Ahn has supported the THAAD deployment and maintaining tough sanctions on North Korea:

The more centrist Ahn Cheol-soo this week won the People’s Party nomination. He is currently second in the Realmeter poll at 34 percent, but he has been slowly closing the gap in recent weeks with Moon. The South Korean software mogul pulled out of the 2012 presidential election to support Moon, but this time he vows to stay in and expects to win.

On national security Ahn takes a somewhat tougher stance than Moon, supporting THAAD and international sanctions imposed on North Korea for breaching United Nations Security Council resolutions banning its nuclear program. But Ahn says he too would press for inter-Korean talks at some point.

“What is the purpose of putting in sanctions against North Korea? Because we would like to persuade them to come to the negotiating table at the time we want and under the conditions that we want,” said Ahn.  [VOA News]

I guess the real question is if the conservative voters in a close election will be as motivated to turn out and vote for Ahn as Moon Jae-in’s voters will for him?

Michael Breen On Why Former President Park Was Impeached

I think long time Korea watcher Michael Breen is spot on with this assessment of the impeachment of President Park:

Compared to many countries, South Korea is fiercely democratic. But South Koreans want to be better. After each election, the winner is allowed to act like a short-term monarch and everyone blessed with a connection looks for advantage. By the end of the fourth year, the stench of favor is too much, and approval ratings plunge so low that the outgoing president is considered a liability by his own party’s next candidate. Of the five democratically elected presidents before Park, one was jailed, another committed suicide to avoid a prosecution investigation, and the other three saw their family members go to jail. Now, Park is the first to actually be tossed out.

Although disappointing on the policy front, Park, in all fairness, has been no worse than the others on the moral front. In fact, being unmarried—and, as far as we know, never even having had a boyfriend—as well as being distanced from her siblings, she was assumed to be free of the complications that dogged her predecessors. So, when it turned out she had a best friend who enjoyed unheard of privileges, whose daughter rode a horse in the Olympics, and who received unfair entrance to a university, the country went ape.  [The Atlantic]

You can read the rest at the link, but Michael Breen goes on to explain how the establishment knew Park had to go because of how unpopular she had become and the size of the protests against her and thus impeachment was inevitable.

Choi Soon-shil Inspired Movie Begins Production

For anyone that has been waiting to see a Choi Soon-shil inspired movie hit the big the screen well here it is:

Choi Soon-sil and Jeong-Kyung-soon

The massive presidential scandal involving Choi Soon-sil, the central figure who allegedly abused former Korean President Park Geun-hye’s authority to amass wealth, will be made into a comedy movie.

“Gate” will be directed by Shin Jae-ho, a comedy-movie director. It will star renowned Korean actress Jeong Kyung-soon as “Aeree,” a character allegedly based on Choi, Park’s longtime friend.

Shin told The Korea Times: “I picked up the idea of the movie from the scandal, but I will not specify Aeree as Choi Soon-sil. Also, the movie’s main story is not about Aeree , but a small family living in a suburb.”

Shin dismissed the idea that the impeached former president was taken into account in the plot, saying there is a character in the movie “who talks to Aeree but she is not based on any real person.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: The Underdogs for the ROK Presidency

Presidential hopefuls of conservative party

Presidential hopefuls of the conservative Bareun Party — Yoo Seong-min (L), a lawmaker of the party, and Gyeonggi Gov. Nam Kyung-pil — pose for a photo prior to a TV debate in Seoul on March 25, 2017. South Korea is preparing for the May 9 presidential election after the ouster of President Park Geun-hye on March 10. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: Dr. Corn to Run for Korean Presidency

'Dr. Corn' declares candidacy for presidential election

Kim Soon-kwon, a chair professor at Handong Global University and also known as “Dr. Corn” for his expertise in growing maize, holds a press conference in the southeastern city of Ulsan on March 23, 2017, to make a declaration to run in the May 9 presidential election. (Yonhap)

Korean Presidential Candidates Fail to Criticize China and Do Not Attend Ceremony Honoring Sailors Killed By North Korea

ROK-US relations could be interesting in the coming years considering how many of the liberal Presidential candidates have plans to appease China and North Korea:

However, only a minor opposition Justice Party has proposed a resolution against China’s increasing pressure on South Korea. In the past, the opposition lawmakers, which had showed a pro-China attitude under former President Roh Moo-hyun, contributed to worsening the relations between South Korea and the U.S. They are now calling for reversing the decision on the deployment of missile defense system, while not making any complaints about China’s irrational retaliatory actions against South Korean companies. Will they show the same attitude if the U.S. comes up with similar retaliatory behaviors?

China stood on North Korea’s side over the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26, 2010. Furthermore, the U.S. had to eliminate its plan on military drills against North Korea with its aircraft carrier in the West Sea after meeting with strong opposition from China. The second West Sea Defense Day Ceremony was held at the Daejeon National Cemetery on Thursday in order to honor and remember soldiers killed from the sinking of the Cheonan, the second battle of Yeonpyeong and the bombing of Yeonpyeong Island. However, opposition party members, including leading presidential candidates, Choo Mi-ae, head of the main opposition Democratic Party, and Park Jie-won, head of the People’s Party, did not show up at the event. It seems that opposition party members are putting a presidential election over national security, making the public feel anxious about South Korea’s national security if they win the election in May.  [Donga Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Danish Authorities Announce that Chung Yoo-ra Will Be Extradited Back to South Korea

It is pretty clear that Danish authorities waited until the political drama concluded in South Korea before decided to send Chung home.  I think this was smart on their part because they protected her from clearly being used as a tool to get a political outcome.  With the impeachment of Park Geun-hye she is now no where near as valuable to the political opposition:

The Danish prosecution said Friday it decided to extradite the daughter of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s close friend for an investigation into a high-profile scandal that removed Park from office.

“It is the assessment of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that all conditions to extradite a South Korean woman to her home country are met,” the prosecution said in a press release.

Chung Yoo-ra was arrested in the European country’s northern city of Aalborg in January as the Korean investigators put her on a wanted list. It was suspected that she received inappropriate academic and financial favors based on her mother’s close ties with the former leader.

“Chung Yoo-ra has three days to decide whether she will bring the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions before the Danish courts,” the prosecution said. “If that happens, the District Court of Aalborg will be the first instance.”

Chung’s lawyer reportedly informed the Danish prosecution that Chung will appeal the decision.

“We believe this is highly political, and we have a fear that they want her to be able to press the mother,” Peter Martin Blinkenberg was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Impeached President Park to Be Interview By Prosecutors Next Week

It will be very interesting to see if the prosecutors get anything to stick to Park Geun-hye:

Prosecutors said Wednesday they have informed former President Park Geun-hye to show up for a questioning on March 21, 2017. Park will be questioned as a suspect in an abuse of power and corruption scandal.

The Constitutional Court permanently removed Park from office on Friday, lifting the presidential immunity that has shielded her from criminal prosecution. A special investigation team headed by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office chief Lee Young-ryeol is currently investigating the allegations.

Independent counsel Park Young-soo handed over unfinished cases against Park to the prosecution last week. The special investigation team, which started the initial probe into the scandal involving Park, her inner circle and large business groups at the end of last year, was revived.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]