South Korea’s Legislative Elections Leave Yoon Down, but Not Out

South Korea’s Legislative Elections Leave Yoon Down, but Not Out
People watch a TV broadcast of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaking during a Cabinet meeting at the presidential office following parliamentary elections, in Seoul, South Korea, April 16, 2024 (Sipa photo by Kim Jae-Hwan via AP Images).

There was a distinct vegetable theme to South Korea’s legislative elections, which were held two weeks ago. President Yoon Suk Yeol’s off base comments about the price of spring onions—a Korean staple—during a campaign appearance became fodder for the opposition, which used ubiquitous references to the vegetable to portray Yoon as out of touch with ordinary voters’ concerns about high prices.

That, in turn, recalls a previous reference Yoon had made to vegetables. In an interview back in January 2023, he said his ruling People Power Party, or PPP, “must secure a parliamentary majority in the general election for me to fulfill my campaign promises. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll just be a vegetable president.”

Avoiding such a fate should’ve been easy for the conservative Yoon, who will mark two years in office next month. This early in a president’s term, the public is usually willing to get behind someone they perceive as trying to solve the country’s problems, many of which Yoon inherited from the previous progressive administration. What’s more, the leaders of both main opposition parties—Lee Jae-myung of the Democratic Party, or DP, and Cho Kuk of the Rebuilding Korea Party—face legal troubles that could land them in prison.

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