South Korea is now in the middle of a political crisis after President Park Geun-hye was embroiled in a corruption scandal and underwent an impeachment trial earlier this month.
Former U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday renounced his presidential ambitions in a surprise decision likely caused by political offensives from rivals and a corruption scandal involving his family members.
Mr Ban told reporters in Parliament, after meeting conservative party leaders, that he had been subject to maligning and "slander akin to character assassination" in the media and had given up his "patriotic" plan to lead political change.
Mr Ban gave a brief press conference in which he said he wanted to use his 10 years' experience as United Nations chief to achieve national unity, but said he had been subjected to "malign slander akin to character assassination".
He said he was "disappointed by old-fashioned, narrow-minded egoistic attitudes by some politicians, and I came to a conclusion that it would be meaningless to work together with them".
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She is now on a trial at the Constitutional Court, which will decide whether her impeachment is upheld or if she is returned to power. If she is thrown out, presidential elections, originally set for December, would instead be held within two months. Millions took to the streets to protest against her leadership.
Prosecutors said Park, South Korea's first woman president, had a major role in the alleged corruption.
Before the corruption scandal revolving around Park broke in October, Ban's prospects for winning the presidency appeared strong and he was leading the polls, despite not having declared an intention to run.
Mr Ban had initially generated sizable interest in South Korea after a decade in charge of the United Nations and was widely seen as testing the political waters before announcing his candidacy.
Moon said he would seek advice and cooperation from Ban when necessary.