The Korea Herald

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[Editorial] Ahn Chul-soo syndrome

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Published : Aug. 8, 2011 - 18:19

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Ahn Chul-soo, 49, a medical doctor-turned-software businessman, is the Korean version of Bill Gates plus Michael Sandel. Currently the dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology, Seoul National University, he runs the Ahn Chul-soo Research Institute, the largest software enterprise in Korea established by Ahn in 1995. He gives about 80 lectures each year to university students and other youths, receiving an average of 3,000 requests.

His political worth was given a new assessment when Moon Jae-in, an opposition dark horse for the 2012 presidential election, said that whichever political group seeking victory in the next general elections needs to recruit Ahn and his lecture companion Park Kyung-chul, also a medical doctor who became a popular economist.

It is not hard to conjecture why Moon recommends Ahn, primarily for his left-leaning views. In a recent interview with a news magazine, Ahn remarked: Korea’s social structure, dominated by conglomerates, angers young people for its reluctance to provide jobs for them. Existing decision makers can correct the situation. If they ignore the problem, the second best option is correcting it by the power of the masses, but elections are the most economic way to do that. Young voters in their 20s and 30s can make it if more than 50 percent of them cast ballots in the next poll.

Millions of youths and even older people are influenced by the social evangelism of Ahn and Park through their lectures, books and TV talk shows. They concur with President Lee on his call for a just society and win-win relations between large and small businesses but they deplore the leader’s inability to take practical steps to achieve these goals while the system continues to harbor conglomerates.

Ahn publicly says he has little interest in entering politics. Some ruling party members assert that figures like Ahn and Park can better contribute to society remaining outside the political arena, but in fact they are worried about the possibility of the duo joining the opposition. Party recruiters may in any way contact them, but the two wise men must know well their net worth in Korean society will plummet and their audience will be gone the moment they step into the Yeouido jungle.