Yoon Suk was elected as South Korea’s president on Wednesday. He is the first civilian to hold the office in more than 50 years and will lead a nation with a population of 51 million people, including 25 million that are under 18-years old.
South Korea has elected Yoon Suk, the youngest president in their history. The new president is a member of South Korea’s liberal party and has been endorsed by President Obama.
SEOUL— On Wednesday, South Koreans voted Yoon Suk-yeol as president, electing a conservative who promised a stronger stance on North Korea and tighter regional relations with the United States.
Mr. Yoon, a 61-year-old former prosecutor, represents a substantial departure in Seoul’s foreign policy, at least in speech, from left-leaning President Moon Jae-in, who backed dialogue with Kim Jong Un’s dictatorship and a balanced relationship with Washington and Beijing.
Mr. Yoon of the conservative People Power Party, on the other hand, claims that the existing system has left South Korea with little control over its own national security. North Korea has resumed missile testing despite Mr. Moon’s overtures, and negotiations with Washington and Seoul have deadlocked.
“With the United States, we will stand on the right side of history by ensuring that those who undermine the liberal international system pay the price,” Mr. Yoon said in a written interview before the election.
The governing Democratic Party’s Lee Jae-myung refers to himself as South Korea’s Bernie Sanders and pledges to provide residents with a universal basic income.
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Mr. Lee’s supporters applaud at a campaign event in Seoul on Tuesday.
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Mr. Yoon, a political rookie who just joined politics last year, won a close—and often savage—race against progressive Lee Jae-myung of Mr. Moon’s governing Democratic Party. In May, he will enter office.
It was the closest presidential election in South Korea since the country’s democratic transition in 1987. According to South Korea’s national election commission, Mr. Yoon’s margin of victory was around 0.8 percent, or roughly 265,000 votes, out of more than 34 million ballots cast. Mr. Yoon received 48.6 percent of the vote, while Mr. Lee received 47.8 percent.
“Today’s outcome is a triumph for the Korean people, not for me or the party,” Mr. Yoon declared after winning the president in an address at campaign headquarters early Thursday morning.
In South Korean elections, the candidate who receives the most votes is declared the winner. Mr. Lee thanked Mr. Yoon and surrendered the election at a press conference at his campaign headquarters early Thursday morning local time.
“After a difficult presidential election, Yoon inherits a divided society,” said Jessica J. Lee, a Korea expert at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft in Washington.
Before election day, fans and candidates alike found the campaign road to be acrimonious. Until the very last day of the race, the country discussed feminism. A barrage of scandals, litigation, and false news dominated policy debates, resulting in a loop of denials, threats, and the rare apology. Locals denounced the election as a sham election with unlikable candidates.
Despite this, there was a large turnout. According to South Korea’s national election commission, roughly 77 percent of the country’s 44 million eligible voters had cast votes by the time the polls closed Wednesday night. It was a comparable turnout to Mr. Moon’s victory in the 2017 election. The constitution of South Korea restricts presidents to a single five-year term.
Mr. Moon has failed to reduce the country’s de facto young unemployment rate, which has stuck around 20%, despite raising the minimum wage and shortening working hours. For voters like Jeong Do-yoon, who just graduated from one of South Korea’s most respected institutions, this is a critical aspect. The 25-year-old is still looking for work, but she voted for Mr. Yoon.
He said, “I go to interview after interview.” “However, there are just too many rivals.”
Lee Jae-hyun, a 27-year-old Seoul office worker, said he is voting for the Democratic Party candidate because the conservatives had their own corruption issues when in power, and he does not believe Seoul should oppose the Kim government. “I want to vote for a more progressive candidate,” he stated.
While Messrs. Yoon and Lee maintain a strong partnership with the United States, they have opposing views on how South Korea should conduct itself in the world. When asked which foreign leader they would see first at a recent discussion, Mr. Yoon suggested President Biden, while Mr. Lee responded it would depend on the conditions.
Mr. Yoon has said that he would not meet Mr. Kim unconditionally and has even pushed for a pre-emptive action against North Korea if a South Korean assault seems near. He wants to mend the fragile relationship between Tokyo and the United States. He’s open to expanding an American antimissile system placed in South Korea, which raised China’s ire earlier.
Mr. Yoon stated in a written interview that “we hope China would recognize South Korea’s sovereign determination if it realizes the reality that North Korea’s danger has only intensified” after the US missile system was installed in 2017.
And he views the United States as the core axis of his government’s foreign policy, with stronger collaborations in cybersecurity, global supply chains, and space on the horizon. He wants Seoul to join the Quad, a four-country alliance that aims to oppose China’s regional dominance and comprises the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.
As the son of two university professors, Mr. Yoon grew up in relative prosperity. He has little foreign-policy expertise despite being a professional prosecutor until recently. He is the first president of South Korea in decades who has never served in the country’s legislature.
Mr. Yoon assumes command of the world’s tenth biggest economy, which has a rising international reputation. The K-pop band BTS and Netflix’s “Squid Game” program are among its soft-power victories. In addition, the nation is home to deep-pocketed corporate giants like as Samsung, Hyundai, and LG, which produce semiconductors, electric-vehicle batteries, and biopharmaceuticals, all of which are sought after by other countries.
According to Gallup Korea surveys, the majority of South Koreans favored a change from the Moon government. Mr. Lee said in a written interview before to the election that politics, not the ruling party, needed to be changed.
“People who desire a change in government think the same way I do,” Mr. Lee remarked. “From what I’ve gathered, they seek major changes in their life.”
South Korean males who were dissatisfied with the economy and the future were courted by Yoon Suk-yeol of the opposition People Power Party.
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Mr. Yoon’s supporters at a rally in Seoul on Tuesday.
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Mr. Yoon courted guys in South Korea who were dissatisfied with the economy and the future. He advocated awarding additional bonuses to those who complete the country’s male-only military conscription and promised to dismantle the Gender Equality and Family ministry, which oversees women’s programs, single-parent families, and child-care facilities. Mr. Yoon said on the eve of the election that he was not a feminist.
In a written interview, Mr. Yoon added, “It is normal for ideological divisions to expose themselves during an election.”
Mr. Yoon’s passionate supporters include Lee Myung-jo, a 28-year-old office worker in Seoul who believes the Moon government has given women unfair career advantages. Both of his parents have been staunch Democrats for a long time. However, he is unable to acquire an apartment due to rising real-estate costs, which have approximately doubled in the Seoul metropolitan region under Mr. Moon, making him worse off than his parents. As a result, he is enraged.
“At home, we don’t speak politics anymore,” he remarked.
Identity politics were used in a new manner in South Korea, successfully pitting young men and women against one another. South Korea’s young people, who have generally supported progressives, are now more likely to be swing votes in this election as a result of the change.
According to Gallup Korea polls, a majority of South Koreans identified as liberals after conservative President Park Geun-hye was ousted in 2017 amid an influence-peddling scandal.
More voters, even younger ones, are either leaning to the center or identifying as conservatives. According to Gallup, more over a third of males in their twenties now favor the conservative party, up from 5% roughly five years ago.
Following the Korean War, two generations of workers enjoyed the rewards of a nation that had risen out of poverty. According to Shin Jae-yong, a professor at Seoul National University, the economy was rising at a rate of 15% per year when baby boomers joined the workforce and 9% for Generation X. The middle class grew in size. There were plenty of job opportunities.
South Koreans in their 20s and 30s, on the other hand, face a quite different work situation. The annual rate of increase has decreased to the low single digits. Blue-collar occupations have gone to China, India, and Southeast Asia, and not many young people who grew up in relative prosperity are interested in doing so. Samsung, LG, and Hyundai reject more candidates than Ivy League schools: just approximately 3% of those who apply are accepted.
Prof. Shin said, “They are the most educated generation, yet they earn the least.”
In previous elections, Kim Ji-min, a 24-year-old university student in Seoul, voted for the governing Democratic Party. Mr. Yoon’s suggestions, such as scrapping the gender ministry, concern her, but she also believes Mr. Lee has not shown enough commitment to supporting women-friendly policies.
She is voting for a third-party candidate, whom she views to be the race’s lone feminist, this time. “It’s frightening to think that the next president would be unconcerned about women,” Ms. Kim remarked.
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South Korea elected a new president, Moon Jae-in. The election was held on May 9th. Reference: moon jae-in.
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