North Korea ridicules UN chief's presidential ambitions

AP News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2016 10:06 PM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Friday mocked outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over his apparent ambitions to run for South Korean president, calling him an opportunistic "chameleon in a human mask" who's dreaming a "hollow dream."

The North's state-run Uriminzokkiri website said Ban's alleged presidential ambitions were absurd because the way he handled his job as U.N. chief for the past 10 years has left him living in "criticism and shame."

The article said Ban had a bad reputation in South Korea's domestic politics because he's an opportunist who "sets sail wherever winds blow and changes colors by the circumstance."

"There is an old saying that you stretch your feet no longer than your blanket will reach, and his harboring presidential ambitions despite living in all sorts of criticism and shame could only described as an incomparably hollow, silly dream," Uriminzokkiri said.

Ban, who steps down as U.N. secretary general at the end of the year after two five-year terms, has not officially declared an ambition to run for South Korean president, but he has not denied his interest either.

In a meeting with South Korean reporters in New York earlier this week, Ban said he was ready to "burn" his body in devotion for South Korea, his strongest hint yet of a presidential bid.

The spotlight is on Ban because there's a possibility South Korea could hold a presidential election in the comijust several months as the country's opposition-controlled parliament on Dec. 9 voted to impeach President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal.

South Korea's Constitutional Court has up to six months to decide whether Park should permanently step down or be reinstated. Her presidential powers are suspended until then, with the prime minister assuming the role of government caretaker. If Park is formally removed from office, a presidential election must be held within 60 days.

If he does make a run for the presidential Blue House, Ban is likely to represent a new conservative party created by defectors from Park's Saenuri Party. More than 30 anti-Park members of Saenuri have announced plans to leave the party next week and create a new party.