Ahn’s prime time appearance earns record ratings

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Ahn’s prime time appearance earns record ratings

The SBS talk show “Healing Camp” had its highest ratings ever Monday when Ahn Cheol-soo appeared to once again evade the question of whether or not he would run for president in December.

The 70-minute show, on which public figures openly discuss personal issues to “heal” their minds, had a 18.7 percent viewership nationwide and 22.4 percent of the viewership in Seoul Monday night.

In January, the ruling Saenuri Party’s presidential frontrunner Park Geun-hye appeared on the show and got a 12.2 percent viewership nationwide. Also in January, Moon Jae-in, a senior advisor of the main opposition Democratic United Party and now a declared candidate, was a guest on the show and his segment got a 10.5 percent rating.

Lots of people tuned in expecting Ahn to announce a presidential bid. Instead, he said he would announce a final decision soon.

“I will have more talks with [people] … and then I will judge whether I’m the person that people who support me imagine me to be,” Ahn said.

In the Korean political divide, Ahn said he was neither left- nor right-wing, and said Korean politics should be harmonized, giving the example of politics in Sweden and Germany where, he said, conservatives and liberals cooperate to build society.

“Welfare can’t be achieved only by one person’s efforts,” Ahn said. “Before conservatives or liberals decide which one is right, we should judge whether they are in accordance with common sense. I would rather be a man of common sense.”

After Ahn released a book last week and then appeared on television, he has become the center of all political discussion. “I still doubt that Ahn will muster up the courage to dedicate everything he has to a presidential campaign,” said Kim Jong-in, a co-chair of the campaign for Park, in a radio interview yesterday.

“He seems to be wanting to follow in the footsteps of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon [who won as an independent], but the Democratic United Party won’t let the same thing happen again.”

A ruling party lawmaker close to Park also told Yonhap News Agency yesterday, “He’s just a dangerous political amateur. I feel he is looking down on people and trying to dictate to them, like an arrogant aristocrat. I rather miss the honesty of late president Roh Moo-hyun.”

The DUP, which is currently planning its presidential primary, is anxious that Ahn’s public appearances will distract people from their candidates, although it is still hoping Ahn will join the main opposition party.

“I hope an opposition candidate is elected through a fair competition and goes on to defeat the Saenuri candidate,” a Moon Jae-in supporter told Yonhap.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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