Former UN chief Ban Ki Moon, once the favourite to be South Korea's next president, yesterday ruled out running for the job, saying he was "disappointed at the selfish ways" of some politicians, and complaining of "fake news".
Although Ban has never announced his presidential bid in the country, the media has been closely following him and scrutinising his decisions ever since his return to South Korea on January 12.
Ban's star power had declined in an intense political climate, reeling from impeachment charges against President Park Geuyn-hye, the Journal noted.
"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 news conference at the National Assembly after meeting with the leaders of three political parties Wednesday, according to the Post.
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The former United Nations secretary-general, who was often seen as the conservative candidate, said "fake news" was to blame for the scathing criticism of his campaign, the BBC reported.
If it is upheld, presidential elections will be held within two months rather than their proper date in December. The media also ran a series of minor mistakes the former United Nations chief made, including not knowing how to buy a ticket for the airport express train and feeding porridge to an old woman in a care home while he was wearing a bib and the old woman not. He was criticised for wearing a bib when the woman was not - and for feeding her while she was lying flat on her back. He had been expected to run as a conservative but was unable to secure any party affiliation.
Mr Ban appeared to have significant support early in an unofficial campaign and was at one time the perceived frontrunner, but his approval ratings fell sharply as he faced criticism about his political competence. Ban denies any knowledge of such a scheme.
It is unclear who will replace Ban from the ruling party.