Yoon Seok-yeol’s win marks a victory for Korea’s “incel” movement led by young, anti-feminist men in their 20s and 30s who claim the country’s women have it too good.
South Korea’s dramatic presidential election came to an even more dramatic close, with conservative People Power Party candidate Yoon Seok-yeol defeating the liberal Democratic Party of Korea’s frontrunner Lee Jae-myung by less than a 1 percent margin.
Early Thursday morning (4 a.m. KST), Democratic Party’s Lee conceded defeat after the National Election Commission announced that Yoon had a 0.8 percentage point advantage over Lee after 96.22 percent of the ballots had been counted.
The tight race led to some big promises from each candidate throughout the campaign, including the absolution of Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family by Yoon. One of Yoon’s clear appeals was his anti-feminist stances, a strategy that attracted young men who blamed women for dim job prospects.
In an interview with Vice, one enthusiastic male voter stated that it was “time we [made] our voices heard” by electing a leader who does “not overlook our sacrifices and contributions,” referring to Korea’s mandatory military conscription, requiring all men to serve two years.
An “outsider” to politics, much like former U.S. President Donald Trump, Yoon served as prosecutor general prior to running for president. He gained popularity after convicting several of current President Moon Jae-in’s cabinet members of crimes, including his justice minister Cho Kuk, who allegedly used his position for personal gains.
Candidate Lee’s campaign was plagued by a series of personal scandals, including that of his wife, who was accused of abusing her power as the governor’s wife, and his nephew, who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her mother.
Yoon is now in charge of Asia’s fourth-largest economy along with a mountain of challenges, including battling Korea’s highest record of COVID outbreaks.