Korean Election and Why It’s So Conversational

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CNBC https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/10/south-koreas-incoming-president-yoon-suk-yeol-and-foreign-policy.html

The two candidates were Lee Jae-myung (Democratic Party of Korea) and Yoon Suk-yeol (People Power Party).

Lee Jae-myung was the former governor of the Gyeonggi province. He heavily believes in universal income. Lee was focused on decreasing poverty and wanted to focus on an energy sustainable economy. Lee Jae-myung promises universal income by handing out cash to the citizens.

Yoon is focused on the free market and nuclear energy. Poverty has been an ongoing issue in South Korea, where it is culturally accepted to have kids later than usual and have as few kids as possible due to the high amounts of money required to raise kids. Rent has been too expensive for many to afford.

On Lee’s wife, Kim Hye-gyeoung’s Twitter account in 2016, she had spread misinformation about the son of former President Moon Jae-in and Representative Jeon Hae-chul. In 2014, she made insensitive comments on the families of the 2014 Sewol ferry victims, and the late former President No Moo-hyun.

Kim Hye-gyeong has since apologized in a press release, but it has been heavily criticized. Her apology was criticized for being too indirect and brief, along with her seeming not to take responsibility for her actions.

Lee Jae-myung was accused of abusing his power and forcing his brother into a mental health hospital. He was accused of beating his wife because she seemed to be injured due to a fall at home. Lee defended his nephew who killed two women which give him some backlash.

Lee got into a scandal when he tried to stop land development in the Korean city of Seongnam during his time as mayor of the city. The scandal got big because government employees were told to do personal tasks for Lee and his wife.

Yoo Seok-yul is a strong advocate against corruption as he helped impeach former president Park Geun-hye from office in 2017. Yoon is also a strong advocate of free markets and going against North Korea.

The wife of Yoon Seok-yul, Kim Kunhee supported an ex-governor who was arrested for sexual assault and disregarded the victims as women that would claim to be victims for the money. She put out a faux apology where she admitted that she wasn’t sorry at all.

Another scandal of Kim Kunhee’s is fighting in court for the imprisonment of reporters. She would like to imprison them for criticizing her husband. That was her goal when her husband was elected president. Luckily, the courts have rejected her request to imprison the journalists. This scandal is important to the Korean people because they always take scandals relating to money or which can damage the careers of people very seriously.

For foreign policy, Lee doesn’t want to focus on China or the United States’ support whereas Yoon wants to improve relations with China and North Korea.

Yoon wants to end gender equality as he believes that women don’t face any discrimination and denies any evidence of gender-based discrimination.

Lee has been criticized as a sympathizer of North Korea and China. Yoon would like to work with the Biden administration on how to handle North Korea and China.

Yoon would like South Korea to join the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue that also has the United States, Australia, Japan, and India. Beijing sees the group as Anti-China. South Korea has possessed such a strong hatred towards China in recent years that they throw hate at any individual or product from China. This is important due to China culturally appropriating South Korean culture and claiming their cultural foods, clothing, etc as theirs in recent years. South Koreans have been questioning China’s government and how China handled COVID-19 before it became a pandemic.

Lee Jae-myung has been slandering Yoon Seok-yeol throughout his campaign. An example includes what happened on February 26th, 2022. Lee accused Yoon of being a drunk and lazy person that will never do anything for his country.

Despite not seeming too important to Americans, this election does affect President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy. Yoon would like to continue the THAAD US missile program to fight against North Korea. It could create greater conflict with China and North Korea as the Chinese government already has a bad outlook on South Korea. It also hit South Korea’s economy more as China was a big media consumer for South Korea. When THAAD was deployed in 2016, China boycotted South Korea.

The 2022 Election is known as an election against the 2030 generation and their elders. The 2030 generation tried to vote early. Lee Jae-myung tried to appeal to them by promising a law that permits non-medical professionals to have tattoos. This law is important because many young people are seeing tattoos as not a bad thing, including idol singers. Lee and Yoon both would like to raise salaries for soldiers. The country of South Korea is currently plagued with high unemployment, high standards of living, and high numbers of suicides among adults in their 20s to early 30s. Sadly, neither Yoon nor Lee ever responded to those concerns despite minor parties bringing up concerns.

According to the Chosun Ilbo, many young women feel like their needs aren’t being met by either of the candidates. The voters that were interviewed by the Chosun Ilbo see both candidates as immature preschool children. It’s hard for voters to pick between voting for the main two parties (the People’s Power Party or the Democratic Party of Korea party) or a minor party. The problem with the minor parties is that they don’t normally have a strong chance to compete against the main two political parties. The youth of South Korea would rather have good wages, job security, and fairness in the government.

On March 10, 2022, Yoon Seok-yeol was elected as South Korea’s president. Not many people are happy. This led to a celebrity witch hunt. Many idol singers were accused of voting for Yoon including Jeon Somi, EXID’s Hani, Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon, Twice’s Nayeon, Super Junior’s Heechul, and Monsta X’s Minhyuk. Jeon Somi was accused of having the color red on her Instagram story on the day of the election. Minhyuk and Nayeon both used red emojis on their social media posts. The color red is commonly associated with the People’s Party.

One concern that CNBC has about Yoon’s presidency is the ongoing Ukraine and Russia conflict. If South Korea stands with the United States and Ukraine, Russia can restrict trade with South Korea. Another worry about Yoon is that he doesn’t have much political experience. Seeing how Yoon has conservative views, he might bring a divide within South Korea. This might end up being similar to America when Donald Trump was president. The Korea Herald already called Yoon Suk-yeol South Korea’s Donald Trump.

After being elected, Yoon Suk-yeol plans to meet with the United States and Japan to discuss their plans. Yoon wants to be tough on North Korea and help the United States with its allies. As for Japan, Yoon wants to get rid of the conflict with Japan.