Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, once considered the front-runner to be next president of South Korea, ruled out running for the top job on Wednesday, disappointed at the "selfish ways" of some politicians in his home country.
"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 hastily arranged press conference at the National Assembly after meeting with the leaders of three political parties.
Moon Jae-in, the leading presidential candidate from South Korea's opposition, said he expected "good competition" from Ban, and that he is "sorry" to hear his rival is quitting the race, local news service Newsis reported.
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Although he never officially declared he was running, Mr Ban embarked on a series of public appearances and repeatedly spoke of the need to bring about a "change in politics" in a country where a corruption scandal has seen President Park Geun Hye impeached.
South Korea has been gripped by political chaos since Ms Park was unseated.
There have been massive protests against Park, who will turn 65 on Thursday (February 2), recently with thousands taking to the streets demanding her ouster. Park is facing ouster over her role in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal.
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A court is now deliberating about whether to accept Ms Park's impeachment or restore her to power. It also involves leaks of classified information.
Mr Ban, 72, returned to South Korea on Jan 12, after 10 years as United Nations secretary-general.
Another bribery case involving his brother and nephew has emerged as another dispiriting setback for Ban.
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Even without announcing his intention to run, his support ratings in opinion polls had slipped to second place behind the presidential candidate for the main opposition Democratic Party, after peaking at almost 30 percent previous year.