It seemed pretty predictable that Moon Jae-in wasn’t going to back down from his Presidential bid and it just makes you wonder why Ahn Cheol-soo bothered to run in the first place if he was just going to back out?:
The millionaire software mogul who was widely seen as a top contender in South Korea’s presidential election in December unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy on Friday, throwing his support behind the candidate of the main opposition party who has championed more engagement with North Korea and “balanced diplomacy” with Washington and Beijing. South Korea’s diplomatic policy is currently weighted more toward the United States. [New York Times]
For those who subscribe to the Korea Economic Reader I thought Tom Coyner made some good points on this issue today:
The current liberal debacle appears to have been similar to watching a slow motion train crash. In fact, at the last minute, the train was able to come to a halt before a complete crash. But let’s not fool ourselves. Before the wheels stopped turning, substantial damage was done.
Consider last week’s television debate. By all accounts, the faceoff seemed more like a squabble between Twiddle-Dee and Twiddle-Dum – on downers. There was little, substantial disagreement other than each of the candidates proclaiming they were better able to implement the generally agreed upon reforms. Gallingly, neither candidate bothered to explain how many of these good ideas would be financed.
So it has come to pass that Ahn blinked first, but in a way that maintained his integrity. He is not joining forces but only supporting Moon Jae-in.
Looking at the two candidates, it may have been preordained that it would have to be Ahn to back down. Moon had fewer options. Mr. Moon is and was simply a politician. Ahn, on the other hand, is a medical doctor, a software mogul and a dean of Korea’s most prestigious university. In other words, in spite how passionate Ahn may be, he has more than three respected occupations to resume. Moon has just one, and if he had acquiesced to Ahn, his solo career would have been set back.
Like North Korea that plays aggressively with a bad hand of cards in diplomacy, Moon and his supporters had few if any options other than to insist on leading the liberal cause. As a result, they were forced to focus solely on one feasible outcome. Ahn was like the U.S. in the sense he and his followers have had almost too many options, regardless of this current focus. As much as his clique wished to come out on top, they knew they could walk away and win some other day. [Korea Economic Reader]
Yes so Ahn will walk away, but we will see if Ahn does live to fight another day because 5 years is a long way off until the next election and it seems like he should try to run for a smaller office in order to build up some more political support within the liberal base before trying for President again. I would think that there are many liberal politicians upset with Ahn’s Presidential candidacy because of how the bickering between him and Moon Jae-in greatly damaged their bid to win an election that should have been theirs for the taking in the first place.