The Korea Herald


[Election 2017] Ahn is the wealthiest candidate

By Bak Se-hwan

Published : April 17, 2017 - 15:40

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Of the 15 candidates running for the South Korean presidency, Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party is the richest, showed data from the National Election Commission.

The entrepreneur-turned-candidate topped other contenders in personal fortune, reporting his assets to be worth 119.69 billion won ($105.2 million), about 74 times the average of the 14 other candidates which stood at 1.69 billion won.

Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party (Yonhap) Ahn Cheol-soo of the centrist People’s Party (Yonhap)

The lion’s share of Ahn’s wealth is in stockholdings of Ahn Lab., the nation’s largest anti-virus software firm that he founded. He is the largest shareholder of the Kospi-traded firm, with an 18.6 percent stake.

Moon Jae-in, the current front-runner in the presidential race from the liberal Democratic Party of Korea, reported his wealth to be 1.9 billion won.

Two main conservative candidates, Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party and Hong Joon-Pyo of the Liberty Korea Party, have 4.8 billion won and 2.6 billion won in assets, respectively, the data showed. Sim Sang-jeung, the only female candidate and chairwoman of the Justice Party, has the least wealth, at 350 million won, among the top five contenders.

Under local rules, candidates who wish to run in the presidential election are required to reveal their financial status, educational background, criminal records and other information on the NEC’s website.

With the two-day official candidacy registration period over, 15 are in the running, a record-high number for Korea.

Aside from the five main contenders, Lee Jae-oh, formerly a five-term lawmaker and confidante of ex-President Lee Myung-bak, and Rep. Cho Won-jin, a loyal key aide of now ousted President Park Geun-hye, are also in the race.

Cho represents the newly created Saenuri Party, which adopted the old name of Hong’s Liberty Korea Party. The former Saenuri Party, founded by former President Park, was relaunched as the Liberty Korea Party after a corruption scandal involving the ex-leader.

Also on the candidate list are Nam Jae-joon, a former National Intelligence Service chief, and former progressive lawmaker Kim Sun-dong who set off a tear-gas grenade in the National Assembly in 2011 to protest against a free trade agreement with the United States.

Each of the 15 contenders are allowed to spend up to 50.9 billion won during the official campaign period until May 8, a day before the upcoming 19th presidential election slated for May 9. They can ask for a full refund if the candidate earns more than 15 percent of the vote. If they reach above 10 percent, candidates are to be reimbursed half of the total costs spent during the election campaign

If they receive below 10 percent of the vote, they will not be reimbursed, according to the election watchdog.

By Bak Se-hwan (