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Former UN chief Ban begins listening to people's concerns

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a prominent presidential aspirant, kicked off his drive to listen to people's concerns by visiting his hometown on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, Ban traveled to his hometown of Eumseong, 131 kilometers south of Seoul, to meet local people and visit his 92-year-old mother and the grave of his father, according to the itinerary offered by Ban's aide.

He also visited Kkottongnae, a rehabilitation center for the sick and disabled in the same district, in the afternoon and met hundreds of his supporters at a 30-minute welcoming event in Chungju, 147 km south of Seoul, the schedule said.

Lawmakers who support Ban didn't accompany him in the brief and short event to avoid any criticisms about the event held in his hometown.

Asked if he has a plan to participate in a candlelight rally to hear people's opinions, the 73-year-old former diplomat told reporters that he "will seek opportunities and will be part of the rally if opportunities come up."

South Koreans have held the weekly candlelight protest on Saturdays in central Seoul, demanding President Park step down for allegedly colluding with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to extort money and favors from big companies that include Samsung Group.

Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon (Yonhap)
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon (Yonhap)
On Friday, a day after his return home, Ban paid homage to late former presidents in his first official event.

Ban, who completed his second five-year term at the end of last year, has yet to officially declare his bid for the country's presidency, but he has repeatedly signaled his strong presidential ambitions.

During a press conference held Thursday, he reiterated his ambitions for the country's top elected office, highlighting his resolve to work "for a change in politics, not for a change of government" -- a message largely seen as a challenge to establishment politics. (Yonhap)

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