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Former top prosecutor's popularity soars after resignation

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Flowers sent by supporters of former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl are seen in front of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul, Sunday. Yonhap
Flowers sent by supporters of former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl are seen in front of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul, Sunday. Yonhap

By Do Je-hae

Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, who resigned from his post last week amid conflicts with the ruling bloc over prosecutorial reform measures, has topped the latest favorability survey for possible presidential candidates.

A survey released Monday by the Korea Society Opinion Institute had the former chief prosecutor in first place with a 32.4 percent support rate from 1,023 respondents.

He is more popular than other potential presidential contenders such as Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung at 24.1 percent and ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Chairman Lee Nak-yon at 14.9 percent. Former conservative presidential candidate Hong Joon-pyo, now an independent lawmaker, came in fourth place with 7.6 percent, followed by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun at 2.6 percent and former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae at 2.5 percent.

In a similar survey published Jan. 22 by the same poll agency, Yoon had recorded 14.6 percent, so his rating has shown an increase of 17.8 percentage points since then.

Supporters of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) and people in their 50s and older showed strong support for Yoon, according to the report.

Also, many people showed support for his March 4 statement made before stepping down from his post, with 56.6 percent agreeing with his remarks "The spirit of the Constitution and system of rule of law are crumbling." Some 37 percent said they do not agree.

Then-Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl leaves the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul, Thursday, after announcing his resignation. Yonhap
Then-Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl leaves the Supreme Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul, Thursday, after announcing his resignation. Yonhap

Some lawmakers in the PPP said that the soaring public support for Yoon following his resignation reflected that many people agreed with Yoon's message. "The ratings show that many see him as a symbol of protest against the Moon Jae-in administration," Rep. Chang Je-won wrote on Facebook. "The ratings reflect expectations for a change of power."

The next presidential election is scheduled to take place in March 2022.

Yoon stepped down from his post last week on the heels of months of clashes with the Ministry of Justice and the DPK on measures for prosecutorial reform. His abrupt resignation has triggered intense speculations of a political debut by joining forces with the opposition bloc. While leaving the prosecution, he himself said he would continue to devote himself to protecting the people wherever he is, but did not explicitly say he will enter politics. "As I have always done, I will do everything I can to uphold liberal democracy and safeguard the people regardless of the position that I hold," Yoon said.

Despite the high favorability as a potential presidential contender, public opinion was not entirely favorable about Yoon considering a political career. According to a survey by Realmeter, Monday, 48 percent said it would be okay for him to enter politics, while 46.3 percent said it was inappropriate.


Do Je-hae jhdo@koreatimes.co.kr


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