Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon rules out contesting in South Korean presidential election

"I will withdraw from politics," he told reporters. "I'm sorry for disappointing many people."

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East at U.N. headquarters in New York, January 26, 2016. Reuters

Amid the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, there has been widespread speculation about who will contest the upcoming presidential elections. A section of the media speculated that former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, one of the most famous South Koreans across the globe, is likely to be the candidate of the ruling Saenuri party. However, this news has not gone well with the citizens and media started raising questions on his political competence and about corruption allegations.

Following this, Ban said at a hastily-arranged news conference on Wednesday that he will not run for South Korea's presidency. "For the past three weeks, I have devoted everything I had, but my genuine patriotism and passion were damaged by rumors and fake news. Me, my family and the U.N. have been greatly hurt," Ban said as quoted by Washington Post.

"I will withdraw from politics," he told reporters. "I'm sorry for disappointing many people." Since his return last month, the 72-year-old's reputation has taken a toll as the latest poll from Segye Ilbo showed him running at 13 percent, well behind Moon Jae-in, the progressive front-runner for the presidency whose approval rating has risen to 33 percent, the report further added. Ever since his return, Ban has been making back-to-back public appearances that led to the speculation.

A report on ABC News opined: "Politics in South Korea have been upended by a massive scandal that prompted millions to take to the streets in protest, the impeachment of the country's conservative president Park Geun-Hye, and a power handoff to the Prime Minister. It further quoted Ban saying: "I was also very disappointed by old-fashioned, narrow-minded, egoistic attitudes by some politicians, and I came to a conclusion that it would be meaningless to work together with them."

Although Ban has not associated with any political party yet, he served as foreign minister under the late liberal president Roh Moo Hyun from 2004 to 2006. However, he is facing a slew of allegations including his role in the corruption scandal that led to the suicide of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun in 2009, the criminal charges against two of his relatives.

A case is still impending in the court on whether to accept Park's impeachment or restore her to power. If the impeachment is passed, then the elections will take place within two months. Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2012 election to Park, is the current front-runner for the post in terms of popularity.

This article was first published on February 1, 2017