Jakarta, IDN Times – Yoon Suk Yeol from the People’s Power Party was elected as the 20th President of South Korea on Wednesday (9/3/2022). He managed to score a narrow victory of 48.6 percent of the vote against his rival Lee Jae Myung who got 47.8 percent.
The conservative opposition candidate won amid discontent over the economic policies, scandals and gender conflict that will reshape the political future of Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Her win in Wednesday’s general election marked a stunning turnaround for the main conservative bloc, which has been re-formed since the 2017 snap election following the impeachment and ouster of then-President Park Geun Hye.
So, who exactly is Yoon Suk Yeol? The following is the track record of the new South Korean president.
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1. Education and early life
Reported Xinhua, Yoon was born on December 18, 1960 in Seoul. He is the eldest of two children. His parents worked as educators, both of whom were university professors in the country.
In 1979, Yoon graduated from Chungam Middle School in Seoul and later attended Seoul National University with a major in law. Initially, he wanted to major in economics, but his father suggested to study law with the consideration of studying economic law.
He graduated from the university in 1983 and continued his master’s education until 1988. After graduating, he started his career as a lawyer.
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2. Starting a career as a lawyer
Reported The Korea Herald, Yoon graduated to become a lawyer in 1991 after taking the exam nine times in the 33rd state. Three years later, he completed a course at the Judicial Research & Training Institute.
In 1994, Yoon started his career as a public prosecutor at the prosecutor’s office in Daegu, Seoul, and Busan. He briefly returned to work as a lawyer in 2002 but returned to the prosecutor’s office a year later.
Yoon was appointed chief prosecutor of the Nonsan branch of the Daejeon District Prosecutor’s Office in 2008, then in 2009 he worked at the Supreme Procuratorate.
In 2013, Yoon investigated the case of a political and business tycoon. Yoon was demoted at the time when he led a special investigation team to investigate the involvement of the National Intelligence Service in the public opinion manipulation scandal.
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3. Impeachment of President Park Geun Hye
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In 2014, he started working at the Daegu and Daejeon high prosecutor’s offices. He becomes the head of the investigative team of an independent adviser, which investigates a corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun Hye and her confidant, Choi Soon-sil. The investigation led to Park’s impeachment in March 2017.
Two months later, South Korea’s newly elected president, Moon Jae In, appointed Yoon as head of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Seeing Yoon as doing well, he then went on to appoint him attorney general in July 2019.
However, soon after, their relationship deteriorated. Yoon is often at odds with Moon Jae In’s government. The dispute ended with Yoon’s decision to resign from his post.
4. Run for president
After resigning, he chose to join the People’s Power Party in June 2021. His joining later coincided with his desire to run in the South Korean presidential election.
Yoon was officially registered as a presidential candidate in November 2021 and won the election held this month.
In his campaign, he has pledged to eradicate corruption, promote justice and create a more equal economy. Not only that, he will also be tougher on his two regional neighbors, China and North Korea.
Yoon’s leadership will be faced with the challenge of uniting a nation of 52 million people divided by gender and generational differences, rising inequality and soaring property prices.
“Real estate prices, housing policies, employment and tax policies will be on the domestic agenda,” said Duyeon Kim, a Seoul-based expert at the Center for a New American Security. Reuters.
Furthermore, Yoon needs to restore public confidence in Korean institutions and is likely to carry out a massive “house cleaning” following up on campaign promises to investigate corruption in the Moon government.
5. Will strengthen relations with the US
The newly-elected president is likely to face a crisis with North Korea, which appears poised to carry out a spy satellite launch and long-range intercontinental ballistic missile test that has been going on since 2017.
Therefore, Yoon promised to forge closer ties with the United States (US) in the face of increased missile activity by North Korea and competition with China, which is South Korea’s biggest trading partner.
The White House has congratulated Yoon and said President Joe Biden looks forward to working with him to improve the alliance. Yoon and Biden spoke by phone on Thursday.
“We can expect the alliance to run more smoothly and aligned on most North Korean, Chinese, and regional and global issues,” said Kim of the Center for a New American Security.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also welcomed Yoon’s victory, and looked forward to working with him to rebuild healthier relations amid tensions over the historic and economic strife that began during Japan’s 1910-1945 occupation of Korea.
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