Oops, that was a typo – I meant to write ‘Election’, but now that I have your attention, it is nearly that time…On December 19, Lee Myung-bak (aka The Bulldozer) will be goneski and the people will vote for a new president.
The leading Conservative candidate is politician Park Gyeun-hye. She is interesting for two reasons: she is a woman and she is the daughter of former president/dictator Park Chung-hee. The left are painting her as a privileged right-winger who is power-hungry and not too bothered with the commoners, having a market-oriented political stance.
Her opponent is former human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in who is representing the Democratic United Party. He is portrayed as the erudite, do-gooder Christian and political activist who is for the people. He has a record as someone who fights for the rights he believes in, even if it comes at a personal cost.
However, the most interesting candidate is Ahn Cheol-soo. Or should I say ex-candidate because he recently pulled out of the race in order to give his side (the Democrats) the best chance of winning. He has worn many hats in his fifty years: medical doctor, professor, dean, entrepreneur, philanthropist. He is an almost Bill Gates-like figure in that much of the wealth (millions of dollars) generated by his anti-virus software has been given to charity. Oh, and he also gave his software away to citizens for free.
Why should we care about this man? Because he is a pioneer, a maverick and an anomaly – someone who offers hope in an unmeritocratic society that is so often plagued by corruption and greed.
According to an article in The Economist, “Mr Ahn is a rare self-made success story in an economy dominated by family-run conglomerates. That makes him a role model for many young Koreans.”
In a presentation given to students at prestigious Ewha Womans University, he explained that: “What you do accounts for two thirds of your entire achievement. The remaining one third of the achievement is accomplished by help from society and supporters.”
This is an important message in a hyper-competitive climate that is becoming increasingly individualistic and cutthroat – to realize that one person needs to be responsible for their own actions and achievement, but also that they need support.
Too bad he pulled out – he would’ve gotten my vote (if I could actually vote).