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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 23b The Next President of South Korea

There will in three weeks be a presidential election to replace ousted President Park Geun-hye, who, with the head of Lotte, Shin Dong-bin, has been indicted for bribery.  For a while there was enthusiasm for former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, but he dropped out.  Then last month, it began to look like Moon Jae-in, the candidate from the largest political party, was the heavy favorite.

There are five prominent candidates:

The surprise is Ahn Cheol-soo of the People's Party, which he founded less than three years ago, with currently only a little more than 10% of the seats in the National Assembly.  As recently as a month ago he only had a 10% chance of being elected.  How close is Ahn now?

Ahn's credentials are impeccable:
  • Age:  55
  • Known to have read every book at his elementary school library.
  • Received a medical degree and a PhD in physiology from Seoul National University.
  • At 27 became the youngest medical college professor.
  • He became dean of the the Seoul National University Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology in 2012.
  • Founded an antivirus software company and remains as the largest stakeholder.
However, Moon did well in the first presidential debate involving all major candidates, while Ahn did not. Moon significantly dampened Ahn's rise.  Two more debates to go.

I  would imagine that, like Donald Trump inexplicably becoming president because American voters were sufficiently disenchanted with traditional politics, Dr. Ahn has come at the right point in South Korean history to become their next leader.  The key to this election could well be 20-somethings, who only show around a 50% track record for voting.  However, in a recent poll, 94.9% said they will vote.  You would think this would give Ahn the edge.  However, in another poll, those 20's gave Moon a double edge:  46% to 25%.  Thus, this race is difficult to call, although Ahn needs to improve in the final two TV debates.

The ninth of May will be an important date in South Korea.  I'm having lunch with a local power broker this week and will gain further insights.


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