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Ban Ki-moon

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon came back to Korea with what seemed like presidential ambitions. But on 01 February 2017, Ban told reporters that he has decided not to run. In the latest opinion polls of potential presidential contenders, Ban was found to have fallen behind the approval ratings of former Democratic Party chairman Moon Jae-in.

"I will give up my aspirations to achieve a change in politics and unify the country under my leadership." Ban said he was disappointed by the unchanged attitudes and selfishness of some politicians and came to realize that it is meaningless to walk the same path with them. He also said that his genuine patriotism and the cause for his "change in politics" have been lost due to the malign slander close to character murder, which he also said tainted the honor of the UN. He added that he is sorry for disappointing many people. Instead, Ban said he would devote his experiences from the UN to doing what he can for the country as a Korean citizen.

The ruling Saenuri Party has expressed shock over former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s decision to drop out of the presidential race. Saenuri spokesman Kim Sung-won said that Ban’s decision is regrettable, but added the party hopes he will now make contributions to the people with his experience as the chief of the UN. The Bareun Party, the breakaway group of the ruling party, said Ban's withdrawal is unfortunate. Party spokesman Chang Je-won said that although his decision was embarrassing, it respects his aspirations for political reform and hopes he will still stand by them in their efforts to seek new politics.

The former career diplomat Ban Ki-moon, who had no political base in Korea, was expected to meet with leaders from all walks of life before making a final decision on a run for the presidency. The right-leaning parties have welcomed Ban's possible bid for the presidency while the opposition parties have said they will set up a taskforce to verify Ban's qualifications.

Ban had also not elaborated on whom he would team up with for a presidential run but he did hint that in general he would be open to working with various political groups. Ban could form an alliance with lawmakers who've broken away from the ruling Saenuri Party or he could align with the second largest opposition group, the People's Party, for the election currently scheduled for December 2017.

By mid-2016 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was the front-runner to become the next president of South Korea if he decided to run, Ban has been expected to join the conservative Saenuri Party of President Park Geun-hye if he runs for the top post in the election scheduled in December 2017, although the UN chief had yet to declare he is considering a run. Despite spending the past decade outside his country, he enjoys high popularity ratings in the East Asian nation.

Results of a survey by Gallup Korea unveiled on 10 June 2016 showed that Ban was the most preferred choice among potential presidential candidates for next year's presidential election. Over 26-percent of respondents choosing Ban as their preferred presidential hopeful, while 16-percent answered they would like to see former chairman of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, Moon Jae-in, become the next president of the country. Other answers included founding co-leader of the People's Party Ahn Cheol-soo, and current Seoul mayor Park Won-soon.

Later polls put him in second place behind Moon Jae-in, a former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party. A poll suggested he had slipped to second place in public support amid a political crisis engulfing the current leader. Support for Ban slipped to 17.1 percent in an opinion poll conducted in November 2016 according to Realmeter, the first time he had dropped from first place since June when South Korean pollsters began including him among potential candidates.

Even the most committed secretary general of the United Nations is limited by the structures of the organization and its member states. But criticism about his ineffectiveness aside, Ban was able to give impetus to a range of initiatives.

If Ban seeks and wins his country’s presidency, he would be the second former U.N. chief to do so. In 1986, Kurt Waldheim became president of Austria after serving as the world body’s fourth secretary-general.

Ban Ki-moon, was elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations on 13 October 2006. Ban took office on 01 January 2007. On 21 June 2011, he was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly and continueed to serve until 31 December 2016. At the time of his election as Secretary-General, Ban was his country's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade. His 37 years of service with the Ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington D.C. and Vienna, and responsibility for a variety of portfolios, including Foreign Policy Adviser to the President, Chief National Security Adviser to the President, Deputy Minister for Policy Planning and Director-General of American Affairs.

Ban’s ties to the United Nations date back to 1975, when he worked for the Foreign Ministry's United Nations Division. That work expanded over the years, with assignments that included service as Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization and Chef de Cabinet during the Republic of Korea's 2001-2002 presidency of the UN General Assembly. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations.

Ban ki-moon was born in the Republic of Korea in Eumseong at a small farming village in North Chungcheong, on 13 June 1944. His family moved to the nearby town of Chungju, where he grew up. During Ban's childhood, his father had a business, but it went bankrupt and the family lost its main income. When Ban was six, his family fled to a remote mountain during the Korean War. After the war ended, his family returned to Chungju.

In secondary school (Chungju High School), Ban Ki-moon was a star pupil, particularly in the study of English. According to local stories, every day Ban walked 6 miles (10 km) to the fertilizer plant to practice English with advisors from American factories. In 1952, he was selected by the school to send a message to UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld, but he never knew whether the message was sent. In 1962, Ban won an essay contest sponsored by the Red Cross, and so was educated to the United States where he lived in San Francisco with a host family for several months. As part of the education, Ban met US President John F. Kennedy. When a journalist asked Ban what he wanted when he grew up, he said, "I want to be a diplomat."

Ban Ki-moon received a BA in International Relations from Seoul National University in 1970, and earned a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1985. At Harvard, he studied with Joseph Nye.

Ban Ki-moon speaks English, French and Korean. He has repeatedly tried to answer questions in French from journalists, but acknowledged limitations repeatedly in French. He and his wife, Madam Yoo (Ban) Soon-taek, whom he met in high school in 1962, have one son, two daughters and three grandchildren. Since 2007, Mrs. Ban has devoted her attention to women’s and children’s health, including autism, the elimination of violence against women, and the campaign to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

In February 2006, Ban Ki-moon declared his candidacy to replace Kofi Annan as UN Secretary-General at the end of 2006. Though Ban was the first to announce his candidacy, he was not originally considered a serious contender. Ban was seen as a contrast from Kofi Annan, who is considered as charismatic, yet regarded as a weak manager because of problems surrounding the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq. Ban Ki-moon was the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. His priorities were to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself. "I grew up in war", the Secretary-General has said, "and saw the United Nations help my country to recover and rebuild. That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service. As Secretary-General, I am determined to see this Organization deliver tangible, meaningful results that advance peace, development and human rights."

One of the Secretary-General’s first major initiatives was the 2007 Climate Change Summit, followed by extensive diplomatic efforts that have helped put the issue at the forefront of the global agenda. Subsequent efforts to focus on the world’s main anti-poverty targets, the Millennium Development Goals, have generated more than $60 billion in pledges, with a special emphasis on Africa and the new Global Strategy on Women’s and Children’s Health. At the height of the food, energy and economic crises in 2008, the Secretary-General successfully appealed to the G20 for a $1 trillion financing package for developing countries and took other steps to guide the international response and protect the vulnerable and poor.

Ban Ki-moon pressed successfully for the creation of UN Women, a major new agency that consolidates the UN’s work in this area. His advocacy for women’s rights and gender equality has also included the "Unite to End Violence against Women" campaign, the "Stop Rape Now" initiative, the creation of a "Network of Men Leaders" and the establishment of a new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. Within the UN itself, the Secretary-General has increased the number of women in senior management positions by more than 40 per cent, reaching the highest level in the Organization’s history.

Ban Ki-moon sought to strengthen UN peace efforts, including through the New Horizons peacekeeping initiative, the Global Field Support Strategy and the Civilian Capacity Review, a package of steps to improve the impact of the 120,000 United Nations "blue helmets" operating in the world’s conflict zones. A mediation support unit, along with new capacity to carry out the Secretary-General’s good offices, were set up to help prevent, manage and resolve tensions, conflicts and crises. Accountability for violations of human rights has received high-level attention through inquiries related to Gaza, Guinea, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, legal processes in Lebanon and Cambodia, and advocacy for the "responsibility to protect," the new United Nations norm aimed at prevent and halt genocide and other grave crimes. He has also sought to strengthen humanitarian response in the aftermath of mega-disasters in Myanmar (2008), Haiti (2010) and Pakistan (2010), and mobilized UN support for the democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East.

Ban Ki-moon sought to rejuvenate the disarmament agenda through a five-point plan, efforts to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament and renewed attention to nuclear safety and security in the aftermath of the tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Ban Ki-moon introduced new measures aimed at making the United Nations more transparent, effective and efficient. These include heightened financial disclosure requirements, compacts with senior managers, harmonization of business practices and conditions of service, the adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards, and continued investments in information technology and staff development.

In New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had widely been considered a top contender to replace Park before the scandal erupted, said 02 December 2016 that he had been closely following the situation and watching the protesters. "I know that they are very much frustrated and angry about this lack of good governance," he said.

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