Mr. Half and Half or South Korea's Last Chance
With fifteen days left in his term, Ban Ki Moon, now the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, raised speculations that he would run for presidency in South Korea following the impeachment of the South Korean President, Park Geun Hye. On Nov. 25, 2016, President Park Geun Hye’s approval rating fell to 4%, and as Korea’s first female president, she will leave Koreans perplexed in political turmoil.
Ban Ki Moon is internationally well known for the work he has done during his nine years at the United Nations. However, what most people do not know about Moon is his humble beginnings in South Korea. He was born in Haengchi Village where he was inspired to pursue a career in public service. While he served as the Secretary General, Moon made it his priority to “mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics....” Moreover, he achieved credible sustainable development goals through the Paris Accords and battled extreme poverty and child mortality rates.
Regarding his candidacy for the presidency, Moon stated, “I am ready to give my all to uniting the divided country….” Despite his renowned success in the United Nations, Koreans were hesitant to support him. Many Koreans deem him as a Mr. Half-Half—a word play with his first name, ‘ban,’ meaning ‘half’ in Korean. Many in the country believe that a president who has already been deeply influenced by foreign opinions and matters will hurt the country. Some critics go as far as calling him “an opportunist” who has spent his life without hardship and struggles, and suggest that he will simply come to Korea to serve in a prestigious position.
Lee Hae-Chan, South Korea’s prime minister during the time that Moon served as Korea’s foreign minister, called him “a diplomat who looks twice but does not leap.” Because Moon secured his station in the United Nations through another corrupted Korean president, his approval ratings are already low in Korea.
On the other hand, the ones who advocate for Moon’s presidency express that he is a global leader who is experienced and will be able to deal with the political changes happening in foreign countries such as the United States.
Since December, Moon has decamped from his plan to be a candidate in the presidential race. However, it was not until Feb. 1, 2017, that he clearly stated he will forfeit his candidacy. While Moon wanted to project a patriotic image of himself, many people and platforms attacked him with slander, leaving him with no choice but withdrawal. With the forfeiture, South Korea is currently left without a major conservative presidential candidate. Moon Jae-In, a liberal candidate, will most likely take the lead in the race, but the country still faces uncertainty and turmoil.