Ban compared to Goh Kun for pulling out

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Ban compared to Goh Kun for pulling out

With former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon bowing out after less than a month, many are reminded of the 2007 race in which Goh Kun, a career bureaucrat just like Ban, likewise dropped his bid at the initial stage of the race.

Goh, a two time-prime minister who served the Kim Young-sam and Roh Moo-hyun governments, had enjoyed high popularity for his stable governance that he demonstrated when he filled in for late President Roh in 2004 when he was impeached. The lifelong bureaucrat was lauded as the country’s potential head of state in the years leading up to the 2007 election in a similar way that much talks predicting Ban’s political ambition circulated over the past two years.

But in a remarkably similar fashion to Ban’s dropout, Goh gave up his bid for president in early 2007 after he had gotten a taste of how ferocious the political smearing campaign against him could be. With Ban out of race now, it could still resemble the 2007 race in which conservative Lee Hoi-chang, who had already been defeated twice in the two previous races, jumped into the race campaigning his diehard conservative values, a run that the Lee Byung-bak campaign feared could split conservatives’ votes.

A similar drama could unfold if Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo of the People’s Party insists on completing his run through the race even if it means dividing liberals’ votes between Moon and himself. Ahn proclaimed that this year’s race will be between himself and Moon in a demonstration of his resolve to put in all of his political capital for the upcoming election, which could take place as early as spring pending the Constitutional Court’s ruling on an impeachment motion against President Park Geun-hye.

If the court removes Park from office, an election must be held within 60 days. In 2007, Lee Hoi-chang failed his third bid for presidency by only winning 15.6 percent of votes while Lee Myung-bak handily clinched the victory with 48.7 percent of votes. Lee’s opposition rival Chung Dong-young came in distant second with 26.2 percent of cast ballots.

Campaign strategy deployed by the opposition bloc this year is also similar to the one used by the conservatives 10 years ago. After 10 years of ruling by two liberal governments, the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the Saenuri, defined the 2007 race as the people’s judgment call on what they termed “the lost 10 years.”

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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