What South Koreans care about most as Yoon Suk-yeol enters office
Incoming president faces sizable hurdles to domestic agenda but will have a freer hand to improve ties with Japan
When he takes office on May 10, South Korea’s next president Yoon Suk-yeol will face unprecedentedly low expectations.
In a polarized political environment, Yoon won a historically narrow election victory in a campaign long on vitriol and short on substance. After the election, Gallup Korea polling found that just 55 percent of Koreans expect Yoon to perform well in his job over the next five years. That number was 87 percent for Moon Jae-in, 84 percent for Lee Myung-bak and 78 percent for Park Geun-hye.
Low expectations and high polarization will free Yoon to take actions unpopular with his detractors. His approval rating among Democratic Party supporters will likely remain below 10% regardless of what he does, meaning reversing Moon’s policies will cost little political capital.
But low expectations will also force Yoon to walk a fine line with his supporters within the People Power Party. Yoon was an outsider candidate from the start of his campaign, and his candidacy was not based on charisma or strong support within the party, leaving him especially weak if scandals put him in political trouble.
Moreover, Yoon’s first two years in office will feature a National Assembly
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