Ex-prosecutor-general's presidential bid facing challenges - Korea Times
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Ex-prosecutor-general's presidential bid facing challenges

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Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, right, poses for a photo with Kim Sung-jae, the executive director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center, during his visit to the memorial center for former President Kim in Mapo District, Seoul, June 11. Yonhap
Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, right, poses for a photo with Kim Sung-jae, the executive director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Center, during his visit to the memorial center for former President Kim in Mapo District, Seoul, June 11. Yonhap

By Jung Da-min

Former Prosecutor-General Yoon Seok-youl, who has been a leading presidential hopeful since he resigned from the post in March, is facing a series of challenges even before he declares a bid for the presidency.

His spokesman, recruited from an influential daily newspaper, has abruptly stepped down, while allegations made about his wife and mother-in-law seem to be emerging as hot-button issues that could hamper his political ambitions.

Lee Dong-hoon, who had been Yoon's spokesman, resigned Sunday for "personal reasons," just 10 days after his appointment. The resignation came about a week before Yoon is expected to make an official announcement on a presidential bid, around June 27, according to his supporters.

Lee Dong-hoon, a former journalist who had the spokesman for Yoon resigned for
Lee Dong-hoon, a former journalist who had the spokesman for Yoon resigned for "personal reasons" Sunday, Yonhap
Political watchers said Lee's resignation seems to be due to disagreements with Yoon over issuing messages on his future political activities.

During a radio interview with local broadcaster KBS, Friday, Lee said Yoon would join the main conservative opposition People Power Party (PPP), which has courted him. But shortly after, Lee sent a text message to reporters backtracking on his words and delivering a new message that Yoon remained "prudent" on the matter of joining the PPP.

Yoon has held meetings with multiple PPP lawmakers and economists in recent weeks but has yet to make it clear whether he will join the PPP, just repeating his stance that he will first listen to the voice of the people.

Critics say such abstract wording is causing confusion not only among PPP members but also within members of his own support group, as highlighted by Lee's resignation.

"Messages from Yoon's camp have not been consistent. Although there could be various opinions from within it, messages should be consistent," said Shin Yul, a political science and diplomacy professor at Myongji University. "Yoon could lose momentum from the political boost that was created after his resignation from the top prosecutor-general post, if he fails to issue a clear message or make a move on the matter of joining the PPP."

Shin also said Yoon's media strategy, in which he contacts several companies selectively by himself to deliver his messages, has failed to have an effects. Shin said Yoon has not only failed to clearly deliver his message but also failed to create a certain political image. He added that such a closed method of communication does not work in the digital era in which political messages are flooding online.

Political commentator Park Sang-byoung said Yoon does not seem to be prepared enough to run for the presidential election slated for March 2022.

"Members of Yoon's camp have issued different messages, but he did not take any responsibility for the confusion. It shows that Yoon is not a prepared candidate for the next presidential election," he said.

Adding to the political challenges for Yoon is the issuing of a so-called "X-file" on him. Some political figures including the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Chairman Rep. Song Young-gil had earlier said that this does exist and would create a huge scandal if it was made public as it contains corruption allegations against Yoon and his family members.

As controversies are growing over whether such a file actually exists, Kim Jae-won, a PPP Supreme Council member, said Sunday that Song should reveal the contents of the file he claims to have obtained, while urging Yoon to clear up any allegations if he has to.



Jung Da-min damin.jung@koreatimes.co.kr


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