By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporter Kim Ka-hee
Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol is looming as a strong Presidential candidate for the Presidential election on March 9, 2022. Also receiving the limelight these days is a political/social critic named Chin Jung-kwon.
There seems to be a slight difference between Yoon and Chin as the former appears to be a moderate person who, all the same, would not comprise what he believes is right under any ‘unjustifiable’ pressure. In contrast, Chin means no words when he thinks what he is thinking is right. For this, Chin seems to be more widely exposed to scathing criticisms from the progressively-oriented people in Korea as well as many of the people in the ruling camp.
They have one thing in common, however.
Many people in the ruling political circles in Korea today do not seem to like them, and therefore they would pour out critical remarks and accusations against them.
The popularity rating of Yoon is continuously rising although he himself publicly expresses his desire that the mass communications media would ‘kindly’ leave him out of this political polling. Yoon wants to be true to his work and do his best as Korea’s prosecutor general no matter what the situation may be—trying to stand aloof from politics.
For Chin, there is no noticeable news as to the possibility of his becoming a Presidential candidate.
Today, the Korean National Assembly is predominantly occupied by the ruling Democratic Party. The Democratic Party alone has 163 seats, highest since 1960. This guarantees the ruling liberal alliance an absolute majority in the legislative chamber, and the 3/5 super-majority required to fast-track its procedures. The conservative alliance between the United Future Party and its satellite Future Korea Party won only 103 seats, the worst since 1960.
The election was held during the COVID-19 pandemic, which had both practical impacts on the conduct of the poll, and political impacts on voters' choice of parties to support.
Many people, especially the conservatively oriented senior citizens who cared their health more than politics, did not go to the polls. In contrast, politically-conscious people went to the polls and it appears that their target of support was not the conservatives.
They all wore masks and cast their votes maintaining optimum distance between the voters.
In February, Korea had the second-most cases of COVID-19 compared with any other country, after China. By the election day, the country had recorded over 10,000 cases and 200 deaths. Korea had introduced one of the world's most comprehensive program of testing, contact tracing and quarantine of suspected cases.
As a result, the fatality rate was 1.95%, lower than the global average of 4.34%, and Korea avoided widespread lockdowns that were implemented in other countries of the world.
The Korean government would not postpone the election and she has actually never postponed elections, even the 1952 one which was held during the Korean War (1950-3).
Prior to COVID-19, according to some reports, the ruling Democratic Party had been expected to struggle in the race as the opinion polls in 2019 had predicted it would win only 37-41% of the votes.
The response of the Korean government, especially the Health Ministry officials such as Madam Chung Eun-kyung of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs who was in charge of management and control of diseases—heading the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the government.
The performance of the Health Ministry officials was praised by the World Health Organization and received widespread support in Korea. President Moon’s response to the pandemic was popular and benefited his party in the elections according to Korean-language news reports.
About Prosecutor General Yoon, President appears to continuously have confidence in his loyalty to his job and government and therefore has not publicly made any remarks against the interests of Yoon—in spite of the scathing public criticisms poured against Yoon by Minister of Justice Madam Chu Mi-ae.
It appears that it is at this juncture where Yoon continuously wins the sympathy and support from the people as he has been continuously battered by scathing criticisms brought against him by Justice Minister Madam Chu.
President Moon appears to continuously repose confidence in Yoon as he has not yet publicly made any gesture showing his desire to have Yoon removed as the prosecutor general. However, with the passage of time people are wondering what President Moon really has in mind concerning the fate of Yoon.