People Power Party presidential nominee Yoon Suk-yeol campaigns in Boryeong, South Chungcheong Province, on Tuesday. (pool photo)
In the run-up to the March 9 election, People Power Party nominee for president Yoon Suk-yeol is resorting to increasingly coarse rhetoric, including questionably based real estate conspiracy theories and overt red-baiting.
Critics are accusing him of crossing the line, even when his political aim of shoring up support is taken into account.
While stumping in Hongseong, South Chungcheong Province, Wednesday, Yoon asked, “Can we afford to leave the politics and future of the Republic of Korea in the hands of a minority of dreamers in thrall to communist left-wing revolutionary theory, as they seek to slowly transform our society into a socialist state rather than a liberal democracy?”
He went on to ask, “Is a ‘people’s democracy’ a democracy? Is a ‘socialist democracy’ a democracy?”
“This administration would like to take the ‘liberal’ out of the ‘liberal democracy’ in our country’s Constitution if they can break past the line for amending the Constitution or reach some form of political compromise to amend it,” he continued.
“This is no accident. They’re doing it on purpose,” he said.
In another stump speech in Dangjin, he referred to the Moon Jae-in administration as an “administration of activists armed with the left-wing social revolution ideology of the 1980s” and accused them of being “an interest collusion bloc sharing left-wing social revolution ideology.”
He also trotted out more anti-China rhetoric.
In Hongseong, he said, “A Democratic Party that has been taken over by left-wing activists cannot stop China’s arrival. They’re taking their cues from Beijing.”
A scuffle also erupted between Yoon’s supporters and university students at the speech who were protesting with signs reading, “What is this talk of a ‘preemptive strike’ [against North Korea]?”
Additionally, Yoon made allegations of conspiracies in the realm of real estate. In his Hongseong speech, he said, “Documents by the powerful figures who designed this administration’s economic and social policies clearly spell out that the administration’s aim is to allow housing prices to skyrocket so that many people cannot own their own homes and to turn the public into a nation of renters, since there would be a stable shift toward conservatism if more people became homeowners.”
He went on to say, “This is why they’ve been canceling all the reconstruction and redevelopment projects and failed to supply housing since Park Won-soon was mayor of Seoul.” His remarks suggested that the ruling Democratic Party had deliberately increased real estate prices to secure votes.
In his Dangjin speech, he referred to a politicized controversy surrounding putting up a shopping mall in Gwangju.
“The Democratic Party blocked [the shopping mall project] because it would be a blow to their ‘democratization struggle’ capabilities,” he suggested.
This was not Yoon’s first time alleging a real estate “conspiracy.” In another stump speech on Thursday in Seoul’s Seocho District, he accused the Moon administration of “deliberately and maliciously allowing housing prices to rise so that people without homes would vote for the Democratic Party.”
Myongji University political science professor Kim Hyung-joon warned, “While this may be tremendously gratifying to conservative supporters, he risks losing moderate votes when he crosses the line.”
During his speeches that day, Yoon mimicked an “uppercut” gesture several times.
By Jang Na-rye, staff reporter
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