Icon of justice and pragmatist in tight race for South Korean presidency, but young voters can decide winner

SEOUL – Next Wednesday, March 9, South Koreans will go to the polls to elect a new president for the post-Covid-19 era.

So far, the race for the Blue House has been neck and neck between Mr. Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and Mr. Yoon Suk-yeol of the People’s Power Party (PPP).

They each garnered around 40% of the vote in various opinion polls, with Mr Yoon maintaining a small lead.

Mr. Yoon, 61, a former attorney general, is an icon of justice who promises an era of change, while his rival, Mr. Lee, 57, is a pragmatist known for pushing populist policies into his precedents roles of Governor of Gyeonggi Province. and Mayor of Seongnam City.

Experts say voters in their 20s and 30s who are still undecided could hold the key to who becomes South Korea’s next president.

However, this group appears to have lost faith in the two main parties and are frustrated with their candidates after family scandals dominated the headlines, overshadowing news about their strengths and policies.

So far, the presidential campaign has been marred by accusations and slander.

For example, Mr. Lee was accused of being involved in a corruption case in connection with a land development project.

Meanwhile, there were allegations of wrongdoing by Mr. Yoon’s wife. She allegedly forged her credentials in job applications and was involved in a stock manipulation case.

“This election campaign has been so horrible that I don’t even want to vote,” said communications specialist Anastasia Lee, 33.

“Candidates are just busy attacking other candidates because of their scandals, and not emphasizing their campaign promises enough.

“Lee doesn’t sound very progressive. Yoon doesn’t know anything about politics and just wants to provoke conflict, like threats of preemptive strikes against North Korea.”

People in their 20s and 30s make up 34% of all eligible voters in South Korea.

In the 2017 elections, this group likely voted for current DP President Moon Jae-in after becoming frustrated with the PPP, whose former Blue House representative Park Geun-hye was expelled from its seats. office after being impeached over a massive corruption and abuse of power scandal. .

But now these young adults are equally disillusioned with DP over the Moon administration’s failure to deliver on its campaign promises for change.

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