Ban Ki-Moon President
In this handout image provide by Foreign Ministry of Japan, U.N. General Ban Ki-moon is seen upon arrival at the Chubu Centrair International Airport in Nagoya, Japan, May 26, 2016. GETTY IMAGES/FOREIGN MINISTRY OF JAPAN

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon remained ahead of other hopefuls in the race for next year’s South Korean presidential elections, data showed Monday.

According to a survey conducted by local pollster Realmeter, Ban commanded an approval rating of 25 percent, up 0.9 percentage point from a week ago, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

According to the survey, incumbent president Park Geun-hye's approval rating stood at 37 percent, an increase of 0.8 percentage point from a week earlier. Her disapproval rating was tallied at 58.3 percent, down 1.5 percentage points. She, however, is limited to a single term in office and cannot seek re-election.

Moon Jae-in, former leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, came close behind Ban with a rating of 24.1 percent, again up by 0.9 percent from a week earlier. Ahn Cheol-soo, co-chair of the minor opposition People's Party, ranked third with a rating of 12.4 percent. The gain of 0.5 percent was seen despite an illicit political fund scandal, involving a young member of Ahn’s party for which he apologized last week, according to Yonhap.

In the Korean parliamentary election held on April 13, President Park’s conservative Saenuri Party lost its majority and the status of the largest parliamentary faction, despite polls in the run-up unanimously predicting a decisive victory for the party. It won only 122 of the 300 seats, down from the 146 in the outgoing parliament.

The left-of-centre Minjoo Party won 123, up 21 from the 2012 result.

Ban never joined any South Korean political party, even though he served as foreign minister under the late liberal president Roh Moo-Hyun from 2004 to 2006. His second term as the Secretary-General comes to an end later this year.

The weekly survey was conducted between Tuesday and Friday on 2,035 potential voters across the nation. Its margin of error is reported to be plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.