Yoon Seok-yeol, the anti-feminist president who wants to return South Korea to the “conservative base”

“Dear Candidate Yoon, feminist is not Voldemort.” If you don’t follow South Korean politics and haven’t read the epic Harry PotterYou may not have entered this reference. But By comparing the defense of women’s rights to personality whose name should not be pronounceddeputy Jang Hye-yeong points out a trait of a winner in South Korea’s presidential election: Yoon Suk-yeol asserts himself “anti-feminist”.

The coordinator, who was narrowly elected at the beginning of March, should be appointed on Tuesday, May 10. Less than a year after entering politics and despite several controversial trips during the campaign, which made him comparable to “Korean Donald Trump”, Invokes RFI. This hasflash scension is “Very strange” About the country, notes sociologist Ji Wook Shin, director of the Korean Studies Program at Stanford University, contacted by franceinfo. “professional civil servant”Yoon Suk-yeol comes from a fairly wealthy background. And this teacher’s son has a persistent nature: He was accepted into one of Korea’s most prestigious universities, and had to try nine times to pass the bar exam, according to a report. Wall Street Magazine*.

Appointed as a prosecutor in 1994, Yoon Suk-yeol is quickly appointed “A reputation as fatal to corruption and abuse of power”Ji Wook Shin details. He distinguished himself by investigating two former conservative heads of state: Lee Myung-bak, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for corruption, especially Park Geun-hye. She was accused of embezzlement in a scandal involving several leaders of Korean companies (including the giant Samsung), and was fired in 2017, after brutal demonstrations. Sentenced to 20 years in prison, the former leader was pardoned at the end of 2021 by her Democratic successor, Moon Jae-in.

And it was precisely the latter who allowed Yeon Seok Yeol to reach the highest judicial position. “When he took power in 2017, Moon Jae In promised to deal with the matter. corruption”Ji Wook Shin explains. Then the prosecutor is stationed in the provinces, a “punishment” To alienate part of the political class over the course of its investigations. The new chief appointed him the Seoul Metropolitan Prosecutor, then the Attorney General. “Moon Jae In thinks Yoon Seok Yeol will be on the Democratic side,” Sociologist continues.

“At the time, Yoon Seok Yeol’s job required him to be politically neutral: he emerged as an independent not affiliated with either of the two major parties.”

Ji Wook Shin, sociologist

in franceinfo

Back in 2013, Yoon Suk-yeol announced that “Loyalty owed to anyone”. Not even the president. In a quick spat with the department, the attorney general has sued several of Moon Jae In’s relatives, reports The New York Times*. “Yoon Seok Yeol has gained popularity among conservatives, and in a period when the party has not emerged as a leader, he has somehow become a hero to them.”He decodes Ji Wook Shin.

In March 2021, the Prosecutor General left office, citing disagreements with the presidency. He officially joined the Conservative Party only at the beginning of the summer. “No one expects to win this election.”Ji Wook Shin points. Starting with the candidate himself. “Until recently, I would never have imagined getting into politics, The 61-year-old Korean, who was quoted by The New York Times *. But the people have put me in the position I am in today, with the task of driving the incompetent and corrupt Democratic Party out of power.”

The Battle of the Blue House, the presidential palace, was marked by “fatal mistakes” by Yoon Seok Yeol. He claims that former dictator Chun Doo-hwan was like that “good politician”According to the BBC*, he questions the importance of 120-hour workweeks (Korea recently reduced the legal weekly time to 52 hours) and threatens his wife with “put in jail” All journalists who criticize power if her husband is elected, it was said Dinar.

In a divisive election strategy reminiscent of that of Donald Trump, Yoon Suk-yeol doubles down on sexist rounds in an effort to mobilize young voters. He attributes responsibility for South Korea’s low birth rate to the women’s movement and asserts that there is no systematic discrimination against women in the country. But the numbers say otherwise. In 2019, South Korean women’s salaries were 32.5% lower than men’s, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development*, compared to an average of 12.5% ​​in the organization’s 38 member countries. The tenth world economy ranks dead last in the barometer on its glass ceiling The Economist *which assesses the status of working women in 29 states.

Feminist activists hold a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on March 11, 2022, to invite President-elect Yoon Seok Yeol to advocate for gender equality.  (Chris Young / Norfoto / AFP)

Regardless of the truth of these distinctions, Yoon Suk-yeol plays on resentment Young people who feel they are being favored, Ji Wook Shin analyzes. The populist candidate goes so far as to promise to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and the Family, particularly responsible for combating domestic violence.

This strategy reinforces the fact “War of the Sexes” Among the younger generation, says a Korean journalist at a forum in Washington Post*. But it has mixed results in polls: If a majority of men under the age of 30 vote for Yoon Seok Yeol in the March 10 poll, according to a poll transmitted time* The conservative won the presidential elections by less than one point over his opponent. The most powerful elections in the history of South Korea.

The term of the new head of state will be “very different” About its predecessor, says Ji Wook Shin. “He relied on CEOs The party in its transitional team, and therefore a policy that will be within the conservative standard, must be followed.” This specialist notes on the Korean peninsula.

“The foreign press has compared Yoon Seok Yeol a lot to Donald Trump for his inexperience and inflammatory rhetoric. But he is actually more like South Korea’s George W. Bush: He defends positions traditionally espoused by conservatives.”

Ji Wook Shin, sociologist

in franceinfo

This is back to ‘Classic conservative politics’ It will be seen internationally. While Moon Jae In promoted dialogue with North Korea, Yoon Seok Yeol promised firmness against her neighbor, which has been firing missiles since the beginning of the year. Comparing leader Kim Jong Un to “rude kid”even mentioned the possibility of implementation ‘Preventive strikes’ against Pyongyang, according to CNN*.

At the same time, the new president wants to strengthen military and economic cooperation with the United States, and start rapprochement with Japan, adds the Brookings Institution *. The ‘biggest question mark’ The future relationship with China remains, ‘Become an important business partner’ From Seoul, Ji Wook Shin notes. Beijing, North Korea’s ally, has warned of economic repercussions if the South buys new missiles from the Americans.

A South Korean delegation meets with the Japanese Foreign Minister on April 25, 2022 in Tokyo.  (Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs/AFP)

Economics is another area where the populist intends to stand out from the democrats. In the face of exploding property prices, he promised to cut taxes in the sector and build 2.5 million homes in five years, reports Washington Post*. Yoon Seok Yeol above all intends to liberalize the labor market, a measure that he believes will promote full employment and growth.

To implement this program, the inexperienced head of state must now bring together a deeply divided country. And dealing with the National Assembly, which is still in the hands of the Democrats. “Yun is not a classic politician, he has experience in negotiations with the partiesJi Wook Shin remembers. With such low popularity, he will not benefit from the traditional “grace period” for new chiefs. Therefore, the coordinator risks being fast “Depressed” Of the resistance it has faced, both in Parliament and in public opinion, says the expert.

Yoon Seok Yeol during a campaign rally in Seoul, South Korea, March 8, 2022 (JUNG YEON-JE / AFP)

The person who built his career as a prosecutor on “Rounds of Power” will be then “He tried to use the judiciary to attack his political opponents.” ? “In this case, we will see an even greater polarization in Korean societySociologist warns. Yeon Seok Yeol must prove that he has the qualities of a leader and a unifier.”

From the day of his victory, the president-elect seemed to be making a gesture in that direction. “For the time being, the rivalry between us is over. We must unite for the sake of the people and the country.”Go to the opposition, according to Watchman*. A month before his inauguration, he also suspended one of his most symbolic reform projects: abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality and the Family. But feminists have caveats: “The project is still standing.”

* Links followed by an asterisk indicate content in English.

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