South Korean Presidential Elections 2022
A What to Watch Ahead of the Elections-Package
On March 9, South Korea elects its next president. After 5 years, Moon Jae-In – who cannot run again due to the one term limit – will leave with one of the highest approval ratings ever for departing presidents.The way he and his government handled the Covid-19 pandemic certainly had a significant impact on public opinion. But what else is he leaving behind? Who will take his place? And what are the biggest challenges South Korea is facing now?
Being less than two weeks away from the elections, we thought this is a good time to take a moment and catch us all up on South Korea – a democracy and global economic force in Northeast Asia, a trusted international partner for many countries in the world, a source of long-lasting tensions for most neighbors, with a highly polarized domestic political landscape and a whole range of societal challenges that need addressing.
A good overview of Moon Jae-In’s domestic legacies and shortcomings just came out by Prof. Ramon Pacheco Pardo of the Brussels School of Governance – from work-life balance and green growth to the liberal-conservative polarization and housing. Read it here.
Our colleagues at Asia Society Korea have produced two very useful explainer videos on the upcoming elections with Prof. David Tizzard of the Seoul Women’s University. Here are the introduction to South Korea’s elections in general and to the four candidates in particular.
In a conversation with Washington Post’s bureau chief Michelle Yee and with Jenny Town, Senior Fellow at the Stimson Center and Director of Stimson’s 38 North Program, ASPI’s Daniel Russel discussed the current situation on the whole peninsula shortly before the elections. Get an insight on the scandals that surround all candidates and how North Korea is expected to react to the new counterpart of Kim Jong-Un – who is now 10 years in power – in the South.
An excellent English speaking newsletter on anything politics in South Korea is The Blue Roof, named after the Blue House (청와대) – South Korea’s White House. The weekly newsletter not only provides insights on current stories and headlines from South Korea but also delivers deep digs, polls, and article recommendations.
A good podcast series came out last year by Chatham House's John Nilsson-Whright on South Korea's strategic context from different points of view. The series is a bit hard to find in the apps, so I'll list the episodes here: Ep. 1: introduction to the strategic context, Ep. 2: priorities, Ep. 3: relationship with Japan, Ep. 4: view from Europe, Ep. 5: ties to SEA.
Our recent Oxford Debate on quotas for women in Japan and South Korea sheds light on gender inequality in South Korea – a question also impacting the current elections, especially among young voters: as the conservatives try to catch the votes of young male voters by promising to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, young female voters tend to lean progressive by default.
And one of the debaters, Se-Woong Koo, only recently relaunched the former media outlet Korea Exposé as a newsletter, continuing to provide English speaking news and background reports on South Korea.