By Alex Jensen
SEOUL (AA) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s coyness over his South Korean presidential ambitions has done little to harm his popularity based on a new poll released Friday -- which placed Ban well ahead of potential competitors going into next year’s presidential election.
Seoul’s former foreign minister has never explicitly said he will run for the top office in his homeland, but a trip to South Korea last month was met with a swarm of speculation.
Having admitted that he will “contemplate” his future in the South when his second term as U.N. secretary-general concludes at the end of this year, Ban is seen by many conservatives as the leader to restore faith in their brand of politics following the ruling Saenuri Party’s surprise general election defeat in April -- even though he served under a liberal administration a decade ago.
Friday’s poll results -- based on a survey by Gallup Korea -- saw Ban’s approval rating stand around the 26 percent mark, 10 percentage points ahead of his nearest rival.
The outcome supports a pattern of similar findings presented by several local media organizations this year.
Ban told reporters at the U.N. headquarters Thursday that he would put all his efforts into his current position as secretary-general “until the very last minute”.
In response to a question over whether there might be a clash of interests, he dismissed such criticism as “undue”.