Yoon Suk Yeol

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Yoon Suk Yeol (1960–) is a South Korean politician and is currently serving as the 13th president of South Korea, who has been in power since May 10, 2022. Prior to his presidency reign, he also served as the prosecutor general of South Korea between 2019 and 2021. Suk Yeol is often described as the Korean Trump or "K-Trump" by media.[1]

Social issues[edit]

Anti-feminism[edit]

Yoon is a very anti-feminist ideologue, and his policies are reflected by this with his misogyny and sexism. He has pledged to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family since he was a presidential candidate. Although he failed to abolish the ministry due to international pressure, including the US, he is still hostile to feminism.[2]

Anti-LGBT bigotry[edit]

The Yoon administration is attempting to reform the conscription system, while trans women (men by conservative South Korean law) who have not received hormone therapy for more than six months to be conscripted as social service workers supplementary to the military. For reference, South Korea does not consider women to be conscripted, which is when the state attempts serious misgendering against transgender people.[3]

State nationalism[edit]

As explained below, because he is a Confucian conservative and anti-communist, he attacks South Korean liberals/progressives/leftists, who want to sign peace treaties with North Korea, as "[ethnic] nationalism" (민족주의), "anti-Japanese racism" and even as "fascism". However, he does not actually deny all forms of nationalism, and he supports the "state nationalism" (국가주의) of South Korea. In South Korea, 국가주의 is mainly a right-wing ideology, but 민족주의 is mainly a left-wing ideology. 국가주의 is a view that prioritizes South Korea's anti-communist/conservative state identity over peaceful relations with North Korea.

Diplomacy[edit]

"Anti-ethnonationalism"[edit]

"Opposition to ethnic nationalism" in South Korea does not have the same meaning as in the United States. It means opposing peace on the Korean Peninsula, pursuing an ultra-hawkish foreign policy toward North Korea, strengthening repressive militarism, anti-North state-based nationalism, abandoning the post-colonial agenda (in issues related to Japanese imperialism) to antagonizing North Korea, and cooperating with the historical revisionist ultranationalist government-dominated Japanese government.

He often describes the opposition parties as "Pro-North Korea" (친북) or "Anti-Japanese ethnonationalist" (반일 민족주의).[4]

The reason why South Korean conservatives are Japanophilia and anti-'Korean nationalism' is also related to traditionalist conservatism, North Korea has suppressed Confucian culture because it is communist dictatorship although it was actually a Kim monarchy but Japan has a well-maintained traditional culture throughout society.

Anti-North Korean sentiment (or anti-communism)[edit]

With the exception of the Syngman Rhee (=first president), Yoon has the most hostile view toward North Korea among all presidents in South Korea. He rejects dialogue with North Korea itself and only prefers hawkish policy.[5] The point where Yoon in the 2020s and Rhee's anti-North Korean sentiment in the 1950s cannot be equated is that North Korea invaded South Korea during the Rhee period. Therefore, unlike Yoon's deliberate promotion of anti-North Korean sentiment, anti-North Korean sentiment was common among South Koreans in the 1950s. After 1953, South and North Korea went into a armistice, effectively ending the war for more than 70 years, but South Korean conservatives and North Korean hard-liners oppose a peace treaty.

He even unilaterally reversed a military agreement reached by the Moon Jae-in government with North Korea in 2018, which called for banning fighter jets from flying on the inter-Korea military demarcation line, after becoming president in 2023. Of course, the fact that North Korea is a terrible totalitarian dictatorship remains unchanged, but Yoon Suk Yeol has actually made a diplomatic provocation against North Korea.[6]

Despite his ultraconservative LGBT, women's rights, and disability policies, he is closer to Joe Biden than to Donald Trump when it comes to North Korean policy. Because Trump supported South Korean liberals' traditional North Korea policy, the Sunshine Policy (햇볕정책), South Korean conservatives believe Trump "betrayed conservatism".

Pro-Japanese colonialism (or Japanophilia)[edit]

While mainstream politicians and people in South Korea have strong anti-Japanese sentiment, Yoon Suk Yeol has often expressed diplomatically pro-Japanese views. He is ready to give up all post-colonial agendas for the friendly relationship between South Korea and Japan that the United States wants.[7] He even argues that victims of past Japanese war crimes in South Korea, including forced labor, should not demand compensation from Japanese companies and the Japanese government.[8]

Originally developed by NAVER (네이버), a South Korean company, and mainly used in Japan, there is a messenger called LINE, which operates LINE as a joint venture with SoftBank (ソフトバンク), a Japanese company, in consideration of anti-Korean nationalism in Japan. In 2024, the Japanese right-wing nationalist government and SoftBank. are calling for the sale of their shares to take control of LINE from NAVER. South Korean liberals criticize the Yoon Suk Yeol government for not fighting against [Japanese] imperialistic, anti-market and anti-Korean [Japanese] nationalistic demands from the Japanese government. (SoftBank is already in charge of LINE's practical management, which is the result of undue pressure on Korean companies due to anti-Korean sentiment prevalent throughout Japanese society, including the Japanese public, the government, and bureaucrats.)[9][10][11]

Democratic backsliding[edit]

His government is pushing back Korea's democracy dramatically, similar to Japan's Shinzō Abe administration in the past. He is notorious for his oppression of liberal or [ethnic] nationalist media (sympathetic to North Korea and hostile to Japan) because he is an extreme anti-communist.

According to 'V-Dem', a prominent German democratic research institute, South Korea is experiencing "re-autocratification" under the Yoon administration, and liberal democracy is rapidly undermined.[12]

President Yoon's recent comments describing the opposition as "anti-state forces"/"anti-national forces" (반국가세력), shows that this trend is far from over.[13]

See also[edit]

  • Donald Trump - His most similar counterpart. Trump is an American nationalist when it comes to dealing with other countries, but on issues related to Russia, Trump is more of a 'Russophilie' than an American nationalist.
  • Shinzō Abe - His Japanese counterpart, and quite similar despite their opposing ethnic nationalism.
  • People Power Party, a conservative party with his as its member.
  • Shin Ki-wook, a right-wing Korean American scholar who supports Yoon. (Shin's a fan of Yoon, but Shin's not a fan of Trump.)
  • National Security Act - in the authoritarian Yoon administration, the scope of application of the law has expanded.

References[edit]