Yoon Suk-Yeol, a conservative, has been elected as the new President of South Korea, beating his main liberal opponent in one of the country’s most tightly fought presidential elections.
Yoon received 48.6 percent of the votes with more than 98 percent of the ballots counted, compared to Lee Jae-47.8 myung’s percent.
Yoon stated on Thursday that if elected as the country’s next leader, he will respect the constitution and the parliament and cooperate with opposition parties, calling the election outcome a “victory of the Korean people.”
“Our competition is over for now,” he remarked in his acceptance speech, thanking and comforting Lee and other competitors.
“We have to join hands and unite into one for the people and the country.”
At a separate ceremony with supporters, Yoon stated that “national unity” will be his main concern, and that all people should be treated equally irrespective of geographical, political, or social disparities.
“I would pay attention to people’s livelihoods, provide warm welfare services to the needy, and make utmost efforts so that our country serves as a proud, responsible member of the international community and the free world,” he stated.
Yoon will enter office in May and will head the world’s tenth-largest economy for a single five-year term.
Lee, a former governor of Gyeonggi province, had already acknowledged defeat at his party’s headquarters.
“I did my best but wasn’t able to live up to expectations,” a glum Lee said. “I congratulate candidate Yoon Suk Yeol. I sincerely ask the president-elect to overcome division and conflicts and open a new era of unity and harmony.”
The election was a two-way fight between Yoon of the opposition People Power Party and Lee of the ruling Democratic Party. They spent months trashing, insulting, and demonizing one other in one of the most acrimonious political campaigns in recent memory, exacerbating the country’s deep schisms.
According to critics, neither contender has given a coherent strategy for mitigating the threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear weapons. They also stated that people are skeptical of how both candidates would handle foreign ties in the midst of the US-China competition, as well as how they will solve expanding economic disparity and skyrocketing home prices.
Yoon has stated that he will react harshly with North Korean provocations and strive to strengthen trilateral security cooperation with Washington and Tokyo. He also stated that a strengthened relationship with the United States will be at the center of his foreign policy, while taking a more robust approach against China.
Yoon accused North Korean leader Kim Jong Un of attempting to sway the outcome of the South Korean election in favor of Lee following North Korea’s last alleged ballistic missile launch on Saturday.
Lee, for his part, has advocated for deeper reconciliation with North Korea as well as diplomatic pragmatism in the face of US-China tensions.
The election occurred at a time when South Korea was dealing with an Omicron-driven COVID-19 surge. On Wednesday, health officials announced a record-breaking 342,446 new viral cases. After normal voting closed on Wednesday evening, those sick with the coronavirus cast ballots.
Because the South Korean Constitution only allows a president to serve one five-year term, Lee’s party colleague, President Moon Jae-in, could not run for reelection. Moon took office in 2017 after conservative President Park Geun-hye was impeached and ousted from office due to a massive corruption scandal.
With conservatives first in disarray following Park’s ouster, Moon’s support rating peaked at 83 percent as he worked hard to seek peace with North Korea and investigate potential wrongdoing by previous conservative presidents. He finally faced a severe reaction as discussions on North Korea’s nuclear program stalled and his anti-corruption campaign generated ethical concerns.
Yoon served as Moon’s prosecutor general before resigning and joining the opposition last year amid infighting over probes of Moon’s associates. Yoon said that the probes were objective and principled, while Moon supporters claimed that he was attempting to undermine Moon’s prosecution reforms while elevating his own political status.
Yoon’s detractors have also accused him of lacking expertise in party politics, foreign policy, and other critical state concerns. Yoon has answered that he will delegate authority over state matters to seasoned people.
Who is Yoon Suk-yeol, the new president of South Korea?
Yoon Suk-yeol, the country’s top conservative contender, was a star prosecutor who helped arrest two former presidents, the chairman of Samsung, and a former chief judge of the country’s Supreme Court on corruption allegations.
Mr. Yoon, during campaign period, aimed to become president by appealing to South Koreans who are displeased with the departing president, Moon Jae-in
Mr. Moon’s government and Democratic Party have been shaken by a series of scandals involving sky-high house prices, increasing economic disparity, and a lack of social mobility.
“Up until recently, I had never imagined entering politics,” Mr. Yoon said in a recent campaign speech. “But the people put me in the position I am in now, on a mission to remove the incompetent and corrupt Democratic Party from power.”
Mr. Yoon was born on December 18, 1960, in Seoul. His father was a college professor, and his mother had previously taught. He became a prosecutor after passing the bar exam in 1994 on his ninth attempt as a graduate of Seoul National University. He finally built a name for himself as an anti-corruption investigator who didn’t back down from political pressure while investigating some of the country’s wealthiest and most influential people.a
“I don’t owe my loyalty to anyone,” Mr. Yoon reportedly stated at a parliamentary session in 2013.
Mr. Yoon rose to prominence in South Korea under Mr. Moon, first as a top investigator and later as prosecutor general. He led the president’s anti-corruption effort, looking into the connections between Samsung, South Korea’s most powerful business, and two past conservative presidents, Park Geun-hye and Lee Myung-bak.
However, Mr. Yoon began to dispute with Mr. Moon’s government when prosecutors under his supervision began examining charges of impropriety among the president’s political associates, such as Cho Kuk, a former justice minister.
Mr. Yoon’s conservative opponents, who had previously condemned him as a political henchman, suddenly began hailing him as a hero. He resigned as prosecutor general last year and was nominated for president by the dominant conservative People Power Party. If elected, he would be South Korea’s first former prosecutor to become president.
Although this is Mr. Yoon’s first attempt at political office, he has a strong support base among conservative South Koreans who want to punish Mr. Moon’s government for perceived policy failings but have lost faith in the People Power Party’s present leadership.