Who is Yoon Suk-yeol? – The New York Times

As a star prosecutor, Yoon Suk-yeol, the top conservative candidate, helped jail two former presidents as well as Samsung head and a former chief justice of the country’s Supreme Court on corruption charges.

Now, Mr. Yoon hopes to make his own as president by appealing to South Koreans who are deeply dissatisfied with outgoing president Moon Jae-in.

The government of Mr. Moon and his Democratic Party has been rocked by a series of scandals that have revealed ethical flaws and policy failures around sky high house prices, income inequality is increasing and lack of social mobility.

“Until recently, I never imagined I would enter politics,” Mr. Yoon said in a recent campaign speech. “But people have put me in the place I am now, with the task of removing the incompetent and corrupt Democratic Party from power.”

Mr. Yoon was born in Seoul on December 18, 1960. His father is a university professor and his mother is a former teacher. A graduate of Seoul National University, he became a prosecutor in 1994 after passing the bar exam on the ninth attempt. He eventually became an anti-corruption investigator who did not flinch from political pressure while pursuing some of the richest and most powerful people in the country.

“I owe my loyalty to no one,” Mr. Yoon famously said during a congressional hearing in 2013.

Under Mr. Moon, Mr. Yoon has become a household name in South Korea, first as a senior investigator and then as a prosecutor general. He led the president’s anti-corruption campaign, investigating link between Samsung, Korea’s most powerful conglomerate, and two conservative former presidents, Park Geun-hye and her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak.

But then Mr. Yoon began to clash with Moon’s government, as prosecutors under his leadership began investigating allegations of misconduct involving the president’s political allies. , such as Cho Kuka former justice minister.

The conservative opposition, which had previously vilified Mr. Yoon as a political henchman, suddenly began calling him a hero. Last year, he resigned as prosecutor general and won the presidential nomination from the main conservative People’s Power Party. If elected, he would be the first former prosecutor to become president in South Korea.

Although this presidential run is Yoon’s first attempt at an elected office, he has a strong base of support among conservative South Koreans who want to punish Moon’s government. for being aware of policy failures, but not trusting the current leadership of People’s Power. Party.

Kim Hyung-joon, a political scientist at Myongji University in Seoul, said: “Yoon is like Trump. “He was an outsider running in to shake up the establishment.”

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