TOKYO – This is a year of presidential elections worldwide, and the last to take place – on December 19 – will be in South Korea. That ballot, however, is already having an international impact, in part because South Korea’s failure to ratify an important new intelligence-sharing treaty with Japan is widely seen as a result of campaign politics. But the election may well have a more positive impact on the region as a whole.
On July 10, the frontrunner, Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri (New Frontier) Party, became the first to announce her candidacy. In addition to other opposition candidates, much attention has focused on Ahn Cheol-soo, Dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University, who is a successful entrepreneur and a charismatic figure for South Korea’s young and independent voters.