Yoon Suk Yeol: South Korea’s New President-Elect

Siwon Jengsuksavat ’23

Contributor

After an extremely tight and nasty election, candidate Yoon Suk Yeol of the People Power Party won with 48.56% of ballots to 47.83% of ballots to the ruling Democratic party. Yoon was officially sworn in as President on May 10, 2022, for a five-year term.

The two major parties in this election were the Democratic Party and the People Power Party. Lee Jae-Myung, previously the Gyeonggi provincial governor, was chosen as the candidate for the ruling Democratic Party. Yoon Suk Yeol, well-known former chief prosecutor (who impeached 11th President Park Geun Hye), was the candidate for the People Power Party.

During the election, the candidates were overly focused on personal attacks and scandals rather than attacks on each other’s party platforms.

During the past few years, South Korea has been facing several large societal problems, such as sky-rocketing housing prices, gender inequality issues, and, most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also several foreign policy issues. South Korea is in a rough spot due to the worsening China-US rivalry. China is a major trade partner to South Korea while the Americans are a powerful ally.

Additionally, the denuclearization and transformation of North Korea is another challenge that the President-elect must face. Yoon must make decisions while considering these issues. South Korea has been divided because of this election and it is the President-elect’s responsibility to unite the South Korean People.

Yoon has pledged to support a “private-sector-led” economy, with less direct government involvement and leadership. To stabilize the real estate market, Yoon plans to supply 2.5 million new homes in four years. His plan is lofty but has garnered the support of youth amidst the Korean housing crisis.

Yoon’s pledge to shut down the gender equality ministry was a controversial move. However, this led to attract many male voters in their 20s and 30s to vote him as president elect. Yoon will have a challenging time to shut down this ministry or make other major decisions since the ruling democratic party has a supermajority in parliament until the elections in 2024.

Yoon has said that he wants South Korea to have a closer relationship with the US. He also stated that his administration will be tougher on North Korea and China than the current Moon administration. Yoon will have to consider that China has been a major trade partner with South Korea for 17 years and any dispute would be disastrous for the economy.

Photo Credit: YONHAP/EPA/Shutterstock