South Korea’s software mogul, Ahn Chul-Soo, announced his candidacy for the presidential elections on Wednesday. Ahn, a renowned entrepreneur who made his fortune through his anti-virus company Ahnlab, has developed a following of young voters looking for a change in the political scenery.
His popularity reflects dissatisfaction with how South Korea’s powerful family-run conglomerates as LG, Samsung, and Hyundai, restrict growth of smaller businesses. Ahn is also an advocate of greater economic co-operation and dialogue with North Korea, as well as the expansion of the welfare state.
“We cannot open our future with this political system that fails to reflect people’s wishes, with an economic system that fails to create jobs and increases income disparity and with a social system where class changes are impossible,” Ahn said on Wednesday.
The December election will pit the independent against the likes of Park Geun-Hye and Moon Jae-In, both seasoned politicians. Park is the candidate of the ruling New Frontier Party and daughter of Park Chung-Hee; former coup leader and president of Korea prior to his assassination.
Moon was once the chief of staff to late President Roh Mu-Hyun and is considered very popular.
Ahn pre-empted criticism of his lack of political experience by arguing it meant he did not “owe any debts to anyone.”
Rumours of Ahn’s bid for presidency sparked a five-fold increase in Ahnlab share prices. The Financial Times reported he had sold half his shares in the company to create a charitable fund, pledging to sell the other half if he is elected president. Commentators predict an agreement between Ahn and the ideologically-similar Moon, to avoid splitting the liberal vote.