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Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Profile: Chung Mong-joon
South Korean football chief Chung Mong-joon
Mr Chung's wealthy background could put off voters
South Korea's millionaire football chief, Chung Mong-joon, is hoping he can ride a wave of popularity and win December's presidential election.

He formally announced his candidacy in September, declaring he would bring "common sense" to politics.

Celebrations as South Korea scores a goal in the 2002 World Cup
South Koreans enjoyed their World Cup glory
The 50-year-old's popularity surged after South Korea's success in the World Cup, in which it became the first Asian nation to reach the semi-finals.

At the time, observers noted that Mr Chung was so popular he should go for the presidency.

Mr Chung heads the South Korean Football Association and serves as a vice-president for Fifa, football's world governing body. He currently sits as an independent in South Korea's parliament.

He is also the controlling shareholder in Hyundai, the world's largest shipbuilder. It was his father, Chung Ju-yung, who founded the company.

Mr Chung senior, who died last year aged 86, ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1992.

He was later sentenced to three years in prison for using company funds to bankroll his campaign, but the jail sentence was not enforced because of his age.

And despite his football success, Mr Chung junior, with his inherited wealth, still has a long way to go to convince voters he can be trusted.

He has tried to start his campaign on the right foot by distancing himself from his business links

He said he would entrust his $123m (150bn won) holding in Hyundai to a bank to manage independently, in order, he said, to prevent a conflict of interest.

He has also resigned as the company's adviser.

"No matter how lofty the position of the presidency may be, I am not seeking to become elected by using all possible means and methods," he said.

Academic success

Mr Chung is seen in South Korea as a respected international player, educated in the US, who speaks good English

He was born in October 1951, the sixth - and reportedly favourite - son of Chung Yu-jung

He was a clever student who gained an economics degree at the prestigious Seoul National University.

He completed military serviced and started working for his father in 1978, going on to become a company president.

He has a business degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied international politics at John Hopkins University.

Mr Chung launched his political career in 1987, resigning from his post as company president.

He won a seat in the National Assembly in 1998 and is now in his fourth term in office.

Many South Koreans believe they owe Mr Chung a debt for his years of international diplomacy that helped secure the joint hosting of the football World Cup.

It remains to be seen whether the voters will reward him with the presidency. But it has certainly given him a powerful advantage.

See also:

17 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
26 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
18 Dec 01 | World Cup 2002
19 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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