Politicians have accused
The “King” mark: The 60-year-old former prosecutor general was spotted with the Chinese symbol when he waved his left hand during the live televised People Power Party (PPP) debate on Oct. 1, Korea Times reported. Pictures of him with the same mark on his palm from two other debates surfaced soon after.
- The “King” inscription can commonly be found on the palms of students taking exams or of those interviewing for jobs as a way to help them with their pronunciation and to give them courage, according to South China Morning Post. The marking is usually given under the advice of shamans and elders in South Korea.
- Due to the superstitious nature of the symbol, Yoon’s opponents contend that he is using shamanistic rituals to stay ahead in the election.
- The idea of a presidential candidate heeding the advice of shamans is particularly rife with scandal in South Korea due to the previous president, Park Guen-hye, infamously consulting a shaman for presidential decisions.
Criticism: In a Facebook post on Sunday, Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the PPP, Yoon’s main rival in the race, said Yoon’s Chinese inscription was the first time he had seen someone use a talisman in a presidential election.
- “I was skeptical of the news I had heard that Yoon has a shaman helping him become president, but now that it’s been revealed that he wrote a talisman on the palm of his hand, all I can think is that this is just absurd,” he added.
- Hong claimed Yoon was accompanied by a fortune-teller when he went out to a meeting with political veteran Kim Chong-in. He also called on Yoon to give up on “talisman campaigning,” explaining it was childish behavior that “cheapens the level of politics.”
- Yoo Seung-min, another member of PPP and the third in line in the party’s candidacy after Yoon and Hong, also criticized the group’s nomination race for being tainted by “incantations and shamanism” in a Facebook post. “How could we win with a candidate who relies on superstitions?” he added.
- The currently ruling Democratic Party criticized Yoon for incorporating superstition into politics as well. Lee So-young, a spokesman for the party, compared Yoon to the disgraced former president Park Geun-hye.
- “People remember well what has happened when an unqualified leader made political decisions in accordance with superstitions and incantations,” Lee said.
- Lee Jae-myung, the Democratic Party’s top candidate, said he had a “good laugh” when he saw Yoon’s palm marking. The incident also reminded him of Choi Soon-sil, Park’s confidante and friend who is now in jail for corruption along with the former South Korean president.
- “I understand the depth of his desperation,” the Democratic Party’s candidate said. “But it would have been better for him to have the inscription under clothes.”
His defense: Yoon explained to reporters that the marking was put on his palm by some older supporters while on his way to the debate. The politician admitted he should have removed the inscription before going on live TV.
- A spokesperson from Yoon’s camp said they attempted to remove the marking with hand sanitizer before the debate, but they could not remove it in time.
- “What shamanistic effect could a character written on his hand in marker have? In future debates, we will not erase any encouraging messages from supporters if they continue to write them on his palm,” the spokesperson said.