Ahn Cheol-soo

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Ahn Cheol-soo
Ahn Cheol-Soo.jpg
Chairman of the People's Party
Assumed office
27 August 2017
Preceded by Park Jie-won
In office
2 February 2016 – 29 June 2016
Serving with Chun Jung-bae
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Park Jie-won
Member of the National Assembly
In office
25 April 2013 – 15 April 2017
Preceded by Roh Hoe-chan
Succeeded by TBD
Constituency Seoul Nowon C
Chairman of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy
In office
26 March 2014 – 31 July 2014
Serving with Kim Han-gil
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Moon Jae-in
Personal details
Born (1962-02-26) February 26, 1962 (age 55)
Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
Nationality South Korean
Political party People's Party (2016–present)
Other political
Independent (2013–14; 2015–16)
NPAD (2014–15)
Spouse(s) Kim Mi-kyung
Children 1 daughter
Alma mater Seoul National University
University of Pennsylvania
Occupation Physician
Software entrepreneur
Known for V3 (antivirus software)
Military service
Allegiance  South Korea
Service/branch Republic of Korea Navy
Years of service 1992–1994
Rank 대위.JPG Daewi (Lieutenant)
Ahn Cheol-soo
Revised Romanization An Cheol-su
McCune–Reischauer An Ch'ŏlsu

Ahn Cheol-soo (Hangul안철수 [an tɕʰʌl.s͈u]; born February 26, 1962) is a centrist South Korean politician, physician, and software entrepreneur, who is currently a member of the National Assembly and was the People's Party nominee for the presidential election in 2017. He was a founding co-leader and is currently the party leader of the People's Party.

He was previously a co-founder and co-chairman of the NPAD from March to July 2014. He ran as an independent candidate for the presidential election in 2012, but withdrew a month before the election took place to support Moon Jae-in whom he ran against in 2017.

Ahn founded AhnLab, Inc., an antivirus software company, in 1995. He was chairman of the board and Chief Learning Officer of AhnLab until September 2012, and remains the company's largest stakeholder. Prior to entering politics, Ahn served as dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University until September 2012.

Early life and education

Ahn was born on February 26, 1962, in Miryang, South Korea, while his father was on military service there; he subsequently moved with his family to Busan, where he grew up.[3] Ahn was known to have loved to read books growing up: at one point finishing every single book at his elementary school library.[4]

He received his Doctor of Medicine (MD), Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in physiology from Seoul National University between 1980 and 1991. He became the youngest chief of professors at Dankook University medical college at 27 years of age, marking his first career as a medical doctor.[5] Ahn researched computer antivirus software programs as a graduate student to his later years as a medical doctor, working as a doctor in the day and researching computer vaccines at night. He once revealed he would work on his antivirus software 3-6am, while sleeping 4–5 hours every night; Ahn went on to emphasize that he even forgot to tell his significant other he was heading off to the military when he entered conscription.[6] His research eventually led to the creation of the V3 antivirus software.

AhnLab, Inc.

After finishing military service as a medical officer in the South Korean navy, and leaving behind his career in the medical profession, Ahn went on to establish his venture company AhnLab, Inc in March 1995.[5] The same company later became the largest computer security company in South Korea,[7][8][9] and was included in annual lists of Korea's most admired companies by Korea Management Association Consulting between 2004 and 2008.[10][11][12][13][14] He resigned as CEO in 2005 and served as chairman of the board until 2012.

Ahn revealed that John McAfee once suggested it would acquire AhnLab for $10,000,000 but rejected the offer. He mentioned patriotic reasons about the decision saying that selling AhnLab might allow a foreign firm to dominate the Korean market.

Later life and education

Ahn became an outside director of POSCO in 2005, and from 2010 to 2011 was chairman of the company.

Ahn was awarded a master's degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997, and an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degree from the Wharton School (San Francisco campus) in 2008. He then became a professor at KAIST in 2008, and later in the beginning of 2011 became the Dean of the Graduate School of Convergence Science and Technology at Seoul National University.[15]

Political career

Entry into politics (2011)

In early September 2011, speculation spread that Ahn would enter politics by competing in the October 26 Seoul mayoral by-election. Analysts stated that if positioned as an independent, Ahn would attract a degree of support from those disaffected by mainstream political parties in the wake of corruption allegations and continuing policy failures. At this time, Ahn's support base was compared to that of Roh Moo-hyun in 2002.[16] Ahn did not ultimately run in the Seoul contest, however.

He alluded to standing as a presidential candidate in his 2012 book Thoughts of Ahn Cheol-Soo.[17]

First Presidential campaign (2012)

On September 19, 2012, at 3 p.m. Korea Standard Time, Ahn held a press conference and announced his intention to run for the 2012 presidential election. This announcement came after months of speculation on whether or not Ahn was going to run for the presidency. The South Korean presidential election was to be held on December 19, 2012. In an address that lasted around 20 minutes, Ahn spent a considerable amount of time explaining how he came to the decision to run for President of the Republic of Korea, quoting the people he had met while exploring his candidacy, who had expressed their desire for a "new politics". Ahn at one point showed to be polling stronger than Moon Jae-in, with a few polls showing he could win against Park Geun-hye, the candidate who would go on to win the election. On November 23, 2012, at 8:20 p.m. KST, Ahn announced that he would drop out of the race,[18] endorsing Moon Jae-in, the Democratic United Party presidential candidate.

2013 by-election and early Assembly career (2013–2016)

On March 11, 2013, Ahn announced that he would run for a seat in the National Assembly of South Korea as an independent candidate in the by-election in the district of Seoul Nowon C. He won the election on April 24, entering his first elected office.[19] In May 2013, he launched a new think tank named Policy Network Tomorrow.[20]

Having entered the Assembly, Ahn began to explore the creation of a new party, which was provisionally named the New Political Vision Party on the basis of public surveys.[21] On March 26, 2014, however, while the party was in the process of being set up, Ahn merged his faction with the liberal Democratic Party to form the New Politics Alliance for Democracy, becoming co-chairman of the new party alongside Kim Han-gil.[22][23] Ahn and Kim both resigned from their position three months later in July, following the new party's disappointing performance in by-elections that year, which had seen the liberals lose a seat in Jeolla to conservatives for the first time in 26 years.[24]

Ahn remained in the NPAD, but came into increasing conflict with Moon Jae-in, who had taken over sole leadership of the party after his resignation, and the "pro-Roh" faction that Moon represented. In December 2015, Ahn issued an ultimatum to Moon demanding that a convention be held at the beginning of 2016 to elect a new party leader. Moon rejected the demand.[25] Ahn then left the NPAD along with a range of other lawmakers opposed to Moon, including Kim Han-gil.[26] Announcing that he would form a new party, he subsequently joined forces with Chun Jung-bae, who had left the party earlier in the year,[27] to form the People's Party in January 2016.[28] Moon resigned as leader after Ahn's defection, describing his experience as "a series of difficult days without a single one of respite".[29]

People's Party (2016–present)

Ahn positioned the new People's Party as an anti-establishment centrist force, attracting support from both political wings.[30] He labeled the remaining NPAD "anachronistic progressives",[31] and accused contemporary Korean politicians of lacking policies beyond "short-term gimmicks".[32] In the lead-up to the April 13 parliamentary election, he came into conflict with his co-leader Chun and other members of the party after Kim Chong-in, the interim leader of the Democratic Party, the NPAD's successor, called for the two parties to form an electoral alliance. Kim Han-gil and Ahn's co-leader Chun both supported the plan, but Ahn rejected any prospect of an alliance with his former party.[33] The proposal was ultimately scotched, with Kim Han-gil withdrawing from the upcoming election in protest.[34]

In the event, the People's Party performed better than anticipated, coming second in party-list voting and winning 38 seats overall, including 23 of the 28 districts in the liberal stronghold of Jeolla.[35] The People's Party held the balance of power in the new Assembly, establishing a three-party system.[36] Ahn was credited for the victory, which was seen as giving him a position as kingmaker and support for contesting the presidential elections in the following year.[37][38] Following the election, Ahn rejected continued calls to regroup with the Minjoo Party, stating that "it would be inappropriate to speak of politically realigning at this point in time". He added that the People's Party would not be "a mere tie-breaking third party, but ... a new opinion leader in parliamentary affairs".[39]

Second presidential campaign and defeat (2017)

Ahn was widely known to be a likely contender for the 2017 South Korean presidential election. He was selected as the People's Party's nominee.[40] Despite rapid increase in opinion polling which briefly bypassed Moon Jae-In, Ahn floundered in TV debates that led to his loss finishing third in a field of five total candidates.[41]

Return of party chairmanship (2017)

The underperformance of his presidential campaign and a party scandal that found People's Party members fabricating evidence to smear Moon Jae-in's campaign led Ahn to declare in July 2017 to both apologize and take a step back from politics in "self-reflection." He returned a month later to run, and later win, the party chairmanship. [42]

Political positions

"New Politics"

Ahn has stated that he considers Franklin D. Roosevelt to be a role model,[37] and has referred to himself as the Bernie Sanders of Korea.[43] He supports an increased capital gains tax, higher public welfare spending, and a cautious approach to free trade agreements.[37]


Ahn has also made appeals to conservatives, however, and has associated the People's Party with "reformative" currents of Korean conservatism.[44] In September 2012, Ahn visited the graves of Syngman Rhee, Park Chung-hee, and Kim Dae-jung. Park and Rhee are often praised by Korean conservatives, and Kim by liberals. Ahn stated at the time that it would be "hypocritical to paint half the people as enemies and at the same time call for 'unity'".[45] Ahn has been considered "more palatable for conservative voters" in part due to his business background.[40]

National security (THAAD)

Ahn was among the first who opposed the American deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, commonly referred to as THAAD, alongside Moon Jae-in. However, he changed his stance suggesting it was "irresponsible" for any future president to reverse an agreement already made between the United States and Korea.[40]

LGBT rights

Ahn has stated he opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage, although in a more detailed article on broadcasting network SBS' website, he said that same-sex marriage needs to be achieved through social discussion.


In December 2011, Ahn has expressed his willingness to donate half of his shares in AhnLab for the education of children from low-income families. He owns 37.1 percent of AhnLab shares, and as of 9 December 2011, the value of the shares to be donated is about 250 billion won ($218 million).[46]

Legal problems

In September 2012, Ahn made a public apology as reports surfaced that his wife evaded taxes by under-pricing a 2001 apartment she bought worth ₩450 million to ₩250 million, thus reducing the acquisition and registration taxes by up to ₩10 million. However, a statement by the Korea Taxpayers' Association claimed that the "down contract" was in accordance with trade customs and thus not unlawful due to flaws in the local tax law between 1996 and 2005.[47]

Personal life

In 1988 he married Kim Mi-kyung, who is currently a professor at the Seoul National University College of Medicine. Ahn has a daughter with Kim.[48]


  • 2012. Thought of Ahn Cheol-Soo (안철수의 생각). 김영사. 276 pages. ISBN 9788934958710
  • 2009. Happy Virus by Ahn Cheol-soo (행복 바이러스 안철수: 안철수 박사가 쓴 안철수 이야기). 리젬. 136 pages. ISBN 9788992826259.[49]
  • 2009. My Mother Who Fostered My Ability (재능을 키워 준 나의 어머니). Jaeneung Academy. 143 pages. ISBN 9788976492456.
  • 2007. My Turning Point (내 인생의 결정적 순간: 그 순간이 없었으면 지금의 나는 없다). IMAGE Box. 247 pages. ISBN 9788991684348.
  • 2004. What We Need (CEO 안철수, 지금 우리에게 필요한 것은). KimYoung. 259 pages. ISBN 8934917202.
  • 2003. My Choice (나의 선택: 무엇이든지 하고 싶지만 쉽게 결단을 내리지 못하는 젊음에게). JeongEum. 231 pages. ISBN 8990164192.
  • 2001. Spiritual Showdown (CEO 안철수, 영혼이 있는 승부). KimYoung. 291 pages. ISBN 8934907525.
  • 2000. Ahn’s Internet Shortcut (안철수의 인터넷 지름길). BookMark. 396 pages. ISBN 8988351142.
  • 1997. Ahn’s Protection and Healing Computer Virus (안철수의 바이러스 예방과 치료). Information Age. 222 pages. ISBN 8985346865.
  • 1996. Analysing Computer Virus and Making Antivirus Software (바이러스 분석과 백신 제작). Information Age. 391 pages. ISBN 8985346180.
  • 1995. Eccentric Computer Doctor, Ahn Cheol-soo (별난 컴퓨터 의사 안철수). Vision. 336 pages. ISBN 8985456148.
  • 1995. Learning Computer Easily (컴퓨터, 참 쉽네요!). Youngjin. 396 pages. ISBN 8931406509.


  1. ^ "AhnLab". AhnLab. 2002-07-08. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  2. ^ Ahn Chul-soo: “Korea needs horizontal thinking to make a Nintendo game player.” at Korea Foundation.
  3. ^ "The vetting of Ahn Cheol-soo". The Hankyoreh. 12 October 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  4. ^ http://entertain.naver.com/read?oid=109&aid=0002032901
  5. ^ a b "Who is Ahn Cheol-soo". koreatimes. 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  6. ^ "'무릎팍' 출연 안철수 교수에 시청자 호평…"보석같은 분"" (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  7. ^ AhnLab Looks to Perform in International Stage at Korea Times.
  8. ^ AhnLab Considers Overseas M&A at Korea IT Times.
  9. ^ Gladstone, Rick; Lee, Su-hyun (2012-09-19). "New Voice in South Korean Politics, Ahn Cheol-soo, Enters Presidential Race". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-29. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-08-05.  (in Korean)
  11. ^ AhnLab, "The Korea's Most Admired company" Consecutive 5 years at Asia Economy (2008.02.20). (in Korean)
  12. ^ "AhnLab". Kr.ahnlab.com. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  13. ^ Samsung Electronics Most Admired Company in Korea: Survey at Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr
  14. ^ Book review "세상에서 가장 안전한 이름 안철수 연구소" at The Hankyoreh. (in Korean)
  15. ^ https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/09/113_94248.html
  16. ^ Park, Jeong-min (2011-09-11). 2002년 노풍(盧風)과 2011년 안풍(安風)의 공통점?. Heraldbiz.com (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  17. ^ Yeong-doo, Kang (19 July 2012). "Ahn Cheol-soo to announce his candidancy virtually". Yonhapnews. Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  18. ^ http://news.naver.com/main/president2012/news/read.nhn?mid=hot&sid1=154&cid=909465&iid=39207146&oid=003&aid=0004843794&ptype=011
  19. ^ "전국 12개 재보선 개표 마무리…安·金·李 당선". News1. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  20. ^ "안철수 싱크탱크 출범, 신당 창당 궤도에 올라". Newdaily. Retrieved May 25, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Ahn's party to establish new name at gathering". Korea JoongAng Daily. February 17, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  22. ^ "Political shocker as DP, Ahn Cheol-soo merge". Korea JoongAng Daily. March 3, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Democratic Party, Ahn Cheol-soo agree to create new party". The Dong-A Ilbo. March 3, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Co-chairmen quit amid election rubble". Korea JoongAng Daily. August 1, 2014. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  25. ^ "NPAD's Moon rejects Ahn demand". Korea JoongAng Daily. December 9, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Ahn Cheol-soo calls it quits with NPAD". The Korea Times. December 13, 2015. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Party feud erodes Moon's leadership". The Korea Herald. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2016. 
  28. ^ "Ahn Cheol-Soo, Chun Jung-Bae To Create New Party". TBS eFM. January 25, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2016. [permanent dead link]
  29. ^ "Moon Jae-in steps down as leader of The Minjoo Party of Korea". The Hankyoreh. January 28, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Ahn's popularity baffles parties". The Korea Times. April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Debate over first President Rhee reignites". The Korea Herald. January 18, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  32. ^ "The Bernie Sanders of Korea? An Interview With Ahn Cheol-soo". The Huffington Post. February 11, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  33. ^ "Ahn stumbling on internal feud". The Korea Times. March 7, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  34. ^ "Rep. Kim not to run in April elections". The Korea Times. March 17, 2016. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  35. ^ "In liberal stronghold, voters give main opposition party a lashing". The Hankyoreh. April 14, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Minority People's Party steals show: Ahn's Party holds balance of power as three party system dawns". The Korea Herald. April 14, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  37. ^ a b c "Software Tycoon Turns Political Kingmaker in Korea Stalemate". Bloomberg. April 14, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Attention to shift to 2017 presidential race". The Korea Times. April 13, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Ahn gestures at moving onto presidential race". The Korea Herald. 17 April 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016. 
  40. ^ a b c Sang-hun, Choe (2017-04-14). "South Korea Election Turns Into 2-Way Race as Dark Horse Surges". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-15. 
  41. ^ '"Ahn And Hong Exchanges 2nd Place In Polling". 
  42. ^ "Ahn Cheol-soo hails his comeback as People's Party head". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2017-09-15. 
  43. ^ "The Bernie Sanders of Korea? An Interview With Ahn Cheol-soo". The World Post. February 11, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2016. 
  44. ^ "Ahn backs Yoo to woo conservatives". The Korea Times. April 7, 2016. Retrieved April 14, 2016. 
  45. ^ "Ahn visits National Cemetery in first political act". The Hankyoreh. September 21, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2016. 
  46. ^ Lee (이), Gwang-bin (광빈) (2011-12-11). 안철수 기부주식 2천500억원 넘어. Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  47. ^ Bae, Hyun-jung (September 28, 2012). "Ahn apologizes for wife's tax-dodging". Korea Herald. Seoul. 
  48. ^ http://news.mk.co.kr/newsRead.php?year=2012&no=610838 (in Korean)
  49. ^ Book review "Happy Virus by Ahn Cheol-soo" at The Hankyoreh. (in Korean)

External links

  • (in Korean) Ahn Cheol-soo Camp
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