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People’s Party Leader Returns to SNU

Dec 04, 2017

The atmosphere in Professor Kang Won Taek’s Korean Politics class was somewhat heightened on November 29 as Ahn Cheol-soo, leader of the People’s Party came to give a lecture to students. Ahn is currently a member of the National Assembly and was the People’s Party nominee for the 2017 presidential election.

Considering Ahn’s initial lack of political background, his political achievements are noteworthy. Ahn was a renowned physician before becoming an software entrepreneur. The program that he designed, AhnLab, is Korea’s most popular antivirus software and is offered free of charge. With such seemingly preposterous measures, Ahn quickly rose to stardom. Many supporters wanted him to run for mayor of Seoul in the 2011 election, which he declined, but with polls indicating his easy victory Ahn put his other careers aside and plunged into the political field.

At the beginning of the lecture, Ahn emphasized his connection to the students as an alumnus of SNU: he holds both a BS and a MS from SNU Medical School.

Dr. Ahn is giving a lecture at SNU CTL
Dr. Ahn is giving a lecture at SNU CTL

Ahn’s lecture was on the subject “The Young Generation, the Future and the Multiparty System.” As one might expect, given his background in engineering and computers, Ahn also shared his thoughts on the Fourth Industrial Revolution: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is unlike the preceding ones in that it is an amalgamation of technologies; we will see computer technology merge with art, even music with virtual reality. Technology will develop in ways we cannot foresee. This makes the changes hard to predict, and thus hard for the government to prepare for.”

On parliamentary systems, Ahn claims that the multiparty format will substitute the current two-party system that is muddling Korean politics. Often characterized as a centrist, Ahn has suffered from unstable political support is dichotomized into two parties, conservative or liberal. “If such practices continue, our politics will come to an dead end,” Ahn said. “We must have a clear, stable third party devoid of ideological disputes.”

Ahn went on to say that the People’s Party is “Exactly what Korean politics currently needs,” because it is not based on ‘leftist’ or ‘rightist’ principles, but on problem solving. Arguing that Korea’s fundamental political problem is one of ‘imperial presidency,’ Ahn expressed his will to make amendments to the constitution in order to change the political landscape.

Managing to gain 21.4% of supportive votes in the last election, the People’s Party has yet to make further establishments regarding its policies. With the upcoming regional parliamentary election, it is left to be seen whether Ahn may empirically prove his centrist politics or not.

Written by Se Yoon Jung, SNU English Editor,
Reviewed by Professor Travis Smith, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations,