A pillar of democracy in the region

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House of high technology, Samsung, LG and Hyundai. Ninth largest economy in the world. Country of the hottest K-pop music bands. And at the same time, corrupted to the core by the sick relationship between politics and economics. Can the newly elected conservatives fix what’s bad, save what’s good?

“South Korea’s fertility rate is the lowest in the world” – Bloomberg just reported. In order to avoid a demographic catastrophe, the recently appointed Conservative government announced social measures. Starting next year, each family with a newborn child will be entitled to a monthly child-raising allowance of one million won (about $740). The amount is expected to increase in subsequent years.

Who exactly are the South Korean conservatives in power in Seoul since May 2022 and who are presenting their version of the 500+?

Prosecutor President

The face of the conservative camp is President Yoon Suk-yeol (in the South Korean political system, the most important person in the state, de facto head of government), who won more than 48% of the vote in the elections presidential elections in May (0.7% more than the Democratic Party challenger Lee Jae-myung).

President Yoon is a political novice. His experience with politicians was limited to contact in courtrooms. In fact, he is a prosecutor by profession. In recent years, he has held the post of Attorney General, from which he resigned in March 2021. This opposed the reform of the prosecution service envisaged by the Liberals at the time.

Before stepping down, however, he became famous for his investigation of the corruption offenses of conservative President Park Geun-hye. The investigation led to his indictment in March 2017 and, a year later, a 24-year prison sentence. But in December 2021, Park Geun-hye was pardoned by President Moon Jae-in, Yoon’s predecessor.

The corruption scandal was a blow to the Conservatives. – It looked like they wouldn’t get over it. And yet they succeeded. If we were to look at this year’s election from the perspective of 2016-17, the result should be judged as very surprising. On the other hand, a lot has happened in South Korea over the past five years, the conservative camp has regained the trust of voters – political scientist and analyst Dr Oskar Pietrewicz told TVP Weekly. Polish Institute of International Affairs. He adds that one of the factors that allowed the conservatives to rebuild their position was the disassociation of the People Power Party from former president Park Geun-hye.

Tired of the liberal regime

But back to May 2017, when Democratic Party candidate Moon Jae-in won the presidential election (with 41% of the vote). At the time, it looked like the Liberals’ position would remain unchanged for many years to come. According to polls, Moon Jae-in had over 80% support at the start of his reign.

Meanwhile, when he resigned in May this year (in South Korea, the presidential term lasts five years, there is no possibility of re-election), support had halved. Although it still matched the result of the presidential election, it was clear that the public mood had changed, that a significant proportion of Koreans were fed up with the liberal government. This was largely due to the scandals that plagued South Korea for years.

– President Moon Jae-in was meant to be the face of change, a symbol of purification. During the election campaign, he promised to fight against all evil, against corruption, against sex scandals. But nothing like that happened. Moreover, it turned out that Moon Jae-in’s ministers were just as involved in scandals as their predecessors – explains Dr. Joanna Beczkowska, a political scientist and Korean from the University of Łódź, who points out that Moon Jae-in also won by .

Koreans were positive about the government’s plan to fight the pandemic and the transparency of procedures, among other things. – This resulted in the victory of the Democratic Party in the 2020 parliamentary elections. But the Democratic Party, despite having a majority in parliament, is now an opposition party – she explains.

He pardoned the “prince” of Samsung

Taking advantage of the scandals in the Liberal camp, the Conservatives bet on a candidate outside their entourage. It turned out to be a shot in the arm. Or at least it seemed to be at the time of the election, as support for President Yoon has now dropped significantly, but more on that later.

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By Łukasz Lubański

Translated by jz

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