Yin Xilie faces severe challenges. Is he up to the job? | Political News

South Korea’s new president knows he has his hands full.

61-year-old Yin Xilie, take office Between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the growing nuclear threat from North Korea and the growing competition between China and the United States — South Korea’s biggest trading partner and its main security ally — the world will into turmoil.

War, disease, climate change, food and energy crises are wreaking havoc on a global scale, “casting a long and dark shadow over us,” he said.

At home in South Korea, he spoke of a brewing “democracy crisis”, where unemployment and a widening gap between rich and poor have fueled discord, leaving many without a sense of belonging or community.

But, in typical bravado, Yoon told the 40,000 people gathered on the lawn of the National Assembly in Seoul for the inauguration that “nothing is impossible”. He promised to address “complex and multifaceted challenges” by advocating for “liberty”, “liberal democracy” and rapid economic growth.

However, obstacles to the new leader abound, largely because of his low popularity and lack of political experience.

As a former senior prosecutor, Yin ran with the conservative People’s Power Party’s votes, won The March election led by 0.7 percent, the narrowest in South Korea’s democratic history.Analysts have called him more of an “accidental president,” with many South Koreans voting for his predecessor Moon Jae-in as the Democratic politician failed to deliver on key promises to tackle inequality, control sky-high prices and promote peace with North Korea.

In fact, Moon appointed Yoon as chief prosecutor after he rose to fame for successfully prosecuting former conservatives President Park Geun-hye on charges of corruption. But the two fell out after Yin began filing fraud charges against the then-president’s inner circle, including his attorney general, Zhao Guo.

“Mr. Clean”

South Korean expert Kyung Hyun Kim said Yoon was “considered Mr. Clean” for prosecuting various high-profile businessmen and politicians.

“It doesn’t matter which government is in power, left or right. Yoon has tracked down corruption in the system. He has a track record of pursuing justice regardless of the political cost,” said a professor of East Asian studies at the University of California, Irvine. “And in a society that is considered to be largely unfair, the rich and the poor are deeply divided, and many ordinary people feel that equality of opportunity is not guaranteed, and I hope he can bring justice to South Korea.”

But despite respecting Yin’s tenacity as a prosecutor, the new president began his single five-year term with historically low approval ratings. In a recent Gallup Korea poll, only 55% of respondents thought he would do well in the office. By comparison, his predecessor earned about 80-90% of his income before he started his presidency.

According to analysts, Yoon’s low popularity partly reflects South Korea’s political instability, which is marked by deep divisions between conservatives and liberals, but also reflects some of his own controversial policies, including abolishing gender equality in the country Ministry’s campaign promise. Critics denounced the pledge as a misogynistic tactic by Yoon — an openly “anti-feminist” — develop South Korea has toxic gender politics and attracts votes from young men who fear losing to women.

The new president’s cabinet candidates have also caused panic.

His education minister candidate Kim In-chul, Resign Among the allegations of misconduct last week were claims that he used his influence as president of the South Korean Fulbright Alumni Association to help his son and daughter receive prestigious Fulbright scholarships to study in the United States.

Yoon’s health minister candidate also faces similar allegationswhile his attorney general nominee has come under fire for media coverage of his teenage daughter exaggerated Her extracurricular activities to secure a place at the university.

Yoon’s decision to move his office and residence from Seoul’s Blue House compound to the Defense Ministry building also sparked controversy. The move could cost about 50 billion won ($41.14 million), and some Democratic Party officials said Yin was influenced by feng shui masters who believed the Blue House was unlucky. The new president denies this.

Jaechun Kim, a professor of international relations at Sogang University in South Korea, said Yoon’s choice and his insistence on moving forward with the relocation of his residence — despite widespread criticism — undermined his support.

“I really don’t have much hope for Yin’s presidency,” he said. “He’s not a politician. He’s pretty much going his own way. He has no doubts about it. So I just hope he doesn’t make any serious mistakes. If he can get South Korea’s society, politics and economy back to normal – after going through After the disastrous Moon Jae-in presidency – I will be happy.”

“Lack of Direction”

Other analysts said Yoon, who has never held elected office, has yet to outline a clear vision for how he plans to deal with the various challenges in South Korea, including North Korea. provocative and relations with China and the United States.

On the campaign trail, he sent a tough signal to Pyongyang by threatening to strike preemptively if there were signs of an imminent attack.He also said he would abandon Moon’s “strategic ambiguity” between the U.S. and China in favor of Washington, adding quadrilateral Groupings for the United States, Australia, Japan, and India.

He also promised to buy additional THAAD missile systems from the United States, which China has previously objected to, claiming the system’s powerful radar can penetrate its territory. When South Korea last deployed THAAD five years ago, Beijing responded with unofficial sanctions, including ending Chinese tour groups to South Korea and boycotting and banning South Korean companies from operating in China.

Since winning the election, Yoon has backpedalled on some of his earlier statements, and in his inauguration speech offered North Korea an “audacious” economic plan if it committed to denuclearisation. His cabinet members also said that before deploying additional THAAD batteries “Further research” is required.

Some experts say Yin must show consistency and clarify his policies.

“He lacks a direction of where he wants to take Korea and its people,” said Kim Hyung-ah, associate professor of Korean politics and history at the Australian National University. “Previous presidents have had a clear direction, but with Yoon, we don’t know exactly. “

Others, however, said the nature of the challenges facing the new president would help refine his policy priorities.

“Although Yoon’s presidency started with many obstacles, I think the future is bright,” said Youngshik Bong, a researcher at the North Korea Institute at Yonsei University.

“North Korea’s provocation and strategic competition between China and Russia on the one hand, and the United States and others on the other will help clarify the policy priorities of the new South Korean government…Challenges and crises could turn into strange friends for the new South Korean president. .”

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