Yoon Suk Yeol was a conservative former top prosecutor, and foreign policy neophyte. He was elected South Korea’s president. This win is expected to signal a push to build a stronger alliance and be more aggressive against North Korea.
Yoon, from the People Power Party, had 48.6% to Lee Jae-myung’s 47.8%. It was South Korea’s most closely fought presidential race.
An enviable crowd of supporters assembled near Yoon’s home and the party’s campaign office to shout his name.
Yoon declared, “This is victory for our great people” in his victory speech to the party office. “I will respect our constitution, parliament, and work with the opposition party to properly serve our people.”
Yoon will be taking office in May. He will serve one five-year term of leadership as the 10th largest economy in the world.
An earlier time, Lee, who was a former governor in Gyeonggi, accepted defeat at his party headquarters.
A glum Lee stated that he tried his best, but was unable to live up to the expectations. “I congratulate candidate Yoon Suk Yeol. I ask that the president-elect overcome divisions and conflicts to open up a new era for unity and harmony.
Wednesday’s election was a two-way battle between Yoon Lee and Lee. They spent months demonizing, mocking, and slamming each other in one the most bitter political campaigns of recent memory. Their fighting escalated already serious domestic divisions, and it sparked speculation that the losing candidate could face criminal probes for scandals they were linked to.
Yoon, who won the election, said that his race with Lee and other candidates has made South Korean politics better. “Our competition is over now. He said that we should all combine our strengths to become one for our people.
Critics claim that neither Yoon or Lee have presented a clear strategy on how to reduce the threat from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and other threats. They claim voters are also skeptical about how Yoon and Lee would handle international relations in the context of U.S.-China rivalry, and how they would address increasing economic inequality and high housing prices.
Yoon stated that he would be stern in dealing with North Korean provocations, and would seek to increase trilateral security cooperation between Washington and Tokyo in order to counter North Korean nuclear threats. Yoon has stated that he would prioritize a strengthened alliance with the United States as the core of his foreign policy. Yoon stated that he would be more assertive in his approach to China.
Lee had for his part called for more reconciliation with North Korea as well as diplomatic pragmatism in the midst of U.S.-China tensions.
Experts believe Yoon’s foreign policy position would bring Seoul closer to Washington, but he can’t avoid frictions with Pyongyang or Beijing.
“We can expect that the alliance will run more smoothly and be better aligned for the most part in North Korea, China and other regional and global problems,” Duyeon Kim said, a senior analyst with Washington’s Center for a New American Security. “Yoon’s main challenge is whether or not he will listen and can be more tough with North Korea and China after he takes office.
Yoon was the current liberal President Moon Jaein’s prosecutor General. However, he resigned last year and joined opposition after infighting over probes into Moon’s allies. Yoon claimed that these investigations were objectively and principled. Moon’s supporters, however, said that Yoon was trying to stop Moon’s prosecution reforms.
Yoon’s critics accuse him of lacking experience in foreign policy, party politics and other important state affairs. Yoon said he would allow experienced officials to handle state affairs that require expertise.
Yoon was accused of inciting gender animosities through his Trump-like style of divisive identity politics, which almost exclusively spoke to men. In an apparent bid for the votes of young men who oppose gender equality policies and losing traditional privileges in a highly competitive job market, Yoon vowed to abolish the Gender Equality and Family Ministry.
Yoon’s immediate priority would be to stop an unprecedented wave of omicron-driven coronavirus infection, which has wiped out the country’s hard-won gains in pandemic control. On Wednesday, South Korea’s health officials reported a record 342 446 new cases of virus. Deaths and hospitalizations are also increasing.
Yoon would need to heal the country’s deeply divided ideology, regional loyalties, and gender lines. Otherwise, he may face major obstacles in his domestic agenda and struggle with his major policies facing a parliament still controlled Lee’s party.
Yoon has pledged to form a coalition government alongside Ahn Cheol–soo, another conservative candidate, who pulled out last week to support him. Observers say that Ahn’s withdrawal was a contributing factor to Yoon winning, but there are still concerns about Ahn and Yoon being involved in factional feuding.
South Korea’s constitution restricts a president to a five-year term. Moon cannot run for reelection. After Park Geun Hye, a conservative president, was impeached for a massive corruption scandal and removed from office in 2017, Moon took power.
After Park’s death, conservatives were in turmoil and Moon’s approval rating reached 83%. He worked hard to reconcile with North Korea and investigate past corruption allegations. As talks about North Korea’s nuclear program failed and as a result of his anti-corruption campaign, he faced strong opposition.
According to the National Election Commission, the tentative voter turnout was 77.1%. This is the fifth highest since direct presidential elections were restored in 1987 after decades of military dictatorship.