Ahn has promised to donate half of his AhnLab shares to charity, with $62 million worth converted and provided to the Ahn Foundation earlier this year. His current holdings in the company are worth about $210 million.
Talk of Ahn’s presidential ambitions flared a year ago when he considered running in Seoul’s mayoral election but gave up his bid at the last minute to throw his support behind liberal lawyer and activist Park Won-soon. His backing helped Park, whose approval rating had initially hovered around 5 percent, win the election.
In July, Ahn published a book that laid out his thoughts on major issues the country faces and quickly became a bestseller. In it, he stresses the need to increase spending on welfare systems, reform family-run chaebol conglomerates such as Samsung and Hyundai and promote fairness and transparency.
On North Korea, Ahn says peaceful economic cooperation with the northern rival could provide South Korea with a new growth engine, with its natural resources, tourism assets and cheap labor. Ahn criticizes Lee for initiating a hardline policy on North Korea, and the president’s liberal predecessors for causing an ideological divide in the country over whether they pampered the North with unconditional assistance.
Ahn had been vague about his presidential ambitions until last month, triggering questions over whether he is indecisive or just wanted to give his opponents less time to scrutinize his qualifications. Ahn has said he needed time to think about whether he is capable of leading the country.
Ahn’s critics also aren’t impressed with his book, saying it lacks concrete details on his policies and action plans.
Hong, the university professor, said he has ‘‘very big concerns’’ about Ahn’s readiness to be president.
‘‘We cannot do politics only with ideals,’’ he said.