Ex-UN boss Ban Ki-moon won't run for South Korea presidency

Former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon right arrives to hold his press conference in Seoul South Korea Tuesday Jan. 31 2017

"For the past three weeks, I have devoted everything I had, but my genuine patriotism and passion were damaged by rumors and fake news", Ban said in a hastily arranged press conference at the National Assembly after meeting with the leaders of three political parties.

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will not run for South Korea's presidency, a surprise announcement that removes a well-known figure from contention and further stirs the country's already tumultuous politics.

"I have chose to give up the pure intention of trying to lead political change and accomplish national reconciliation", he said.

South Korea is now in the middle of a political crisis after President Park Geun-hye was embroiled in a corruption scandal and underwent an impeachment trial earlier this month. If she's thrown out, presidential elections, originally set for December, would instead be held within two months.

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Ban, whose approval ratings have steadily fallen since his return to South Korea last month, cited "fake news" about him and his family among the reasons for his decision. He was criticised for wearing a bib when the woman was not - and for feeding her while she was lying flat on her back.

Liberal Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2012 election to Ms Park, is the current front-runner.

Mr Ban had been expected to run as a conservative but was unable to secure any party affiliation.

The former United Nations chief's decision could boost the chances of minor candidates such as Mr Ahn Cheol Soo of the progressive People's Party, said Dongguk University political science professor Kim Jun Seok.

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Before the corruption scandal revolving around Park broke in October, Ban's prospects for winning the presidency appeared strong and he was leading the polls, despite not having declared an intention to run.

It is unclear who will replace Ban from the ruling party.

A local magazine has reported that Ban received around US$230,000 from Park Yeon-cha, a local businessman, while serving as South Korea's foreign minister in the 2000s.

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