Who will be the next president of South Korea? The presidential election in South Korea takes place on March 9th of 2022. There were several presidential candidates but it will ultimately come down to two candidates. So far the top 2 candidates include the ruling Democratic Party’s Lee Jae-myung, the People Power Party’s Yoon Seok-youl.

There are many indications that an opposition candidate will replace the government. One indication comes from the Seoul mayoral elections. The results showed that the opposition party candidate Oh Se-hoon got 57.5% of the votes while the Democratic party candidate Park Young-sun only got 39%. In Busan, the conservative People Power Party candidate Park Hyung-joon ended up getting 62.7% of the vote. These are clear signs that the conservative party in South Korea will end up taking the Blue House in 2022. Moving forward the Democratic party has to decide whether to rebrand themselves and distance themselves from the Moon administration. Or to double down with the current administration.

Democratic Party vs People Power Party

One thing we know for sure is that like in years past, the presidential campaign is looking like it will come down to a battle between the conservative party and the liberal party. The conservative opposition People Power Party was hit hard with the 2016 corruption scandal. The scandal led to the impeachment and ultimate imprisonment of then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye. However, the party elected a 36-year-old party member Lee Jun-seok as its new chairman. This has sparked new hope for a generational change in South Korea moving forward. He has called to fight against a system that favors the rich and connected.

The biggest issues facing the next South Korean president will of course start with handling the coronavirus pandemic. Many businesses have been hurt due to guidelines that prevent large public gatherings. In addition, there continue to be nuclear threats from North Korea, high housing prices, high unemployment among the youth, high inequality gaps, and foreign relations with the U.S, China, and Japan.

The Next President of South Korea – Top Two Candidates

Yoon Seok-youl and Lee Jae-myung have been attacking each other for being involved in corruption. They even stated that the other will end up going to jail after the election. Lee has been linked to a land development scandal in Gyeonggi Province. Yoon has been alleged to have engaged in political meddling while he was serving as prosecutor-general.

Yoon Seok-youl

Next President of South Korea

The biggest critic of the Moon administration has gotten a lot of support from the public. Interestingly Yoon Seok-youl is very popular among conservatives in Korea and those that want someone that will change things up moving forward. He is currently the frontrunner but a lot can change moving forward. He is very popular among Koreans due to the fact that he was known for cracking down on corruption among corporate leaders such as Samsung Electronic’s Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong and the former South Korean President Park Geun Hye. However, the reason why he is the frontrunner is his opposition to the Moon administration. He stated many times that he wants to restore constitutionalism and the principle of fairness that he says have been marred by the Moon administration.

Yoon Seok-youl has been in the headlines of late. His mother-in-law was convicted of fraud and medical law violations linked to her hospital business and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. In addition, his wife, Kim Keon-hee has rumors about her circulating online in regards to allegations she used to work as a hostess at a hotel nightclub before their marriage in 2012. She has continuously denied these allegations. Dispite these issues, Yoon continues to have a lot of support. Most feel he is joining the conservative opposition People Power Party, others feel he might launch his own party if his popularity continues to rise.

“I’m stepping forward with a determination to change the government. I’ll join forces with everyone yearning for a shift in power and achieve that surely,” said Yoon Seok-youl

Key Policies:

  • To strengthen economic cooperation with the United States
  • Create a global investment environment in South Korea
  • Stronger ESG practices and climate change initiatives
  • Improve diversity, inclusion, and address the gender pay gap

Lee Jae-myung

Next President of South Korea

While Yoon might have a slight lead, Lee Jae-myung is right there with him. Lee already ran against the current South Korean President Moon Jae-in back in 2017. While left-leaning, he is considered an outsider and has a strong following with those that are frustrated with the current administration. He is the governor of Korea’s most populous province, Gyeonggi, and made headlines for embracing UBI (Universal Basic Income) in Korea. This got him praise from Koreans (especially the younger generation) who see his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and his decision to offer financial support to local residents ahead of the central government. He is often compared to the United States, Senator Bernie Sanders.

The problem for Lee Jae-myung moving forward is that he does not have the support of President Moon. As well as the mainstream members/media of the Democratic Party of Korea. This is a huge issue as Moon supporters are still the majority within the Democratic party. His biggest scandal comes from a claim from an actress named Kim Bu-seon that Lee had an extramarital affair with her. Lee has denied this. Kim then filed a lawsuit against Lee for defamation.

Key policies:

  • Wants more engagement with North Korea
  • Reform family-run conglomerates
  • Wants to implement a plan that would give around $90,000 to people when they reach the age of 20.
  • UBI in South Korea