Lee Jae-myung says S. Korea cannot accept a “prosecutorial regime”

Posted on : 2021-12-06 17:51 KST Modified on : 2021-12-06 17:51 KST
His comments targeting rival and former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl came during a campaign trip to North Jeolla Province over the weekend
Democratic Party presidential nominee Lee Jae-myung greets supporters at Saemgoeul Market, in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, on Sunday. (Yonhap News)
Democratic Party presidential nominee Lee Jae-myung greets supporters at Saemgoeul Market, in Jeongeup, North Jeolla Province, on Sunday. (Yonhap News)

While on a three-day tour of North Jeolla Province over the weekend, Lee Jae-myung, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, said Sunday, “We must not let [Korea] become a country of the prosecutors, by the prosecutors, for the prosecutors. Just as a military regime is not acceptable, a prosecutorial regime is not acceptable either.”

“Politics must not exist for someone’s private revenge, judgment or profit. What we need is the administration I will lead to make our lives better and to make our government better and more competent,” added Lee, former governor of Gyeonggi Province.

Lee was appealing to voters to choose himself on the grounds that the election of People Power Party candidate Yoon Seok-youl would mean the rise of a “prosecutorial regime” and could lead to revenge against the administration of current president, Moon Jae-in.

On Sunday morning, on the third day of his “Metabus” tour of North Jeolla Province, Lee stopped by Saemgoeul Market, in Jeongeup. “Metabus” — a pun on “metaverse” — is an abbreviation of a Korean abbreviation meaning “people’s livelihood bus that we ride every week.”

“The most important thing is making sure that people can make a living. The most important thing is taking care of people’s livelihood. Getting revenge for the past is a personal issue,” Lee said.

“We hated the military regime, and now a group that’s made up of all kinds of former prosecutors is seeking to create a prosecutorial state here in the election next year. Are we going to tolerate that?” he asked.

Lee criticized Yoon Seok-youl for taking the public’s inclination to let another party take power as an excuse to enter politics to pursue his personal grudge about how the prosecution service has been treated by the Moon administration.

Lee also addressed a controversy over his signature pledge about universal basic income, which he recently said he wouldn’t ram through against the will of the public, leading to questions about whether he’s walking back his plan.

“Even if [basic income] is too controversial to be implemented right away, it’s something society will have to do at some point,” he said while criticizing the anti-labor perspective shown by Yoon.

“Some say we should work 120 hours a week, get rid of the minimum wage, and abolish the 52-hour workweek, even while we’re living in a country that has the misfortune of having the most work, the lowest labor productivity, and the most deaths in industrial accidents in the whole world. Is that the kind of country we want?” Lee said in a speech in Muju County.

Lee’s remarks were targeted at Yoon, who has called for lowering the minimum wage and who opposes the 52-hour workweek. Lee has also unveiled a plan to implement a rural basic income consisting of community currency payments in counties or provinces that sign up for the program. The rural basic income will be implemented on a trial basis in Gyeonggi Province next year.

Lee’s circuit of North Jeolla Province came just four days after a three-day tour of Gwangju and South Jeolla Province that began on Nov. 26. Lee apparently calculates that he needs to nail down the vote in the southwest Honam region, where he has yet to completely win over residents, if he’s to prevail in next year’s presidential election, which is expected to be decided by a thin margin.

Lee is devoting so much attention to Honam — making separate trips to its northern and southern halves — because more than 20% of voters there are still undecided.

A candidate suitability survey conducted by Gallup Korea during the first week of December showed 21% of Honam respondents saying that they were “reserving judgment” (58% for Lee, 12% for Yoon). The region’s rate was six percentage points higher than the 15% nationwide average of respondents reserving judgment; it was also the only region where the rate was above 20%.

The presence of so many swing voters who have yet to make up their minds in Honam — traditionally considered a Democratic Party stronghold — is both a crisis and an opportunity for Lee.

Within the party, some are predicting the “Metabus” plan could translate into a boost in support.

“When people think of Lee Jae-myung, the image that comes to mind is often coarse and intimidating, but he’s not actually like that when you meet him, and I think voters’ minds are changing a lot,” said a member of the Democratic Party’s election countermeasures committee.

“I think we’re seeing a response from the more passive support base after Lee Jae-myung’s visit to the region,” they suggested.

By Choi Ha-yan and Seo Young-ji, staff reporters

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles