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Chief prosecutor tops presidential hopeful poll amid tussle with justice minister

All News 16:04 December 02, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl took the top position in the latest poll of potential presidential candidates released Wednesday, as his support continued to rise amid an escalating feud with Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae.

In a survey conducted by R&Search this week, 24.5 percent of respondents chose Yoon as the most favored next leader, up 9.1 percentage points from a month before.

He overtook two liberal heavyweights of the ruling Democratic Party (DP), who have dominated presidential opinion polls for months.

Lee Nak-yon, chairman of the DP, remained second with 22.5 percent, up 0.9 point. Gyeonggi Province Gov. Lee Jae-myung, who topped the poll last month, fell to third with 19.1 percent, down 3.7 percentage points.

The gap between Yoon and Lee Nak-yon is 2 points within the margin of error of 3.1 points of the survey conducted on 1,011 voters across the country from Monday to Tuesday.

Yoon is favored largely by conservatives. He was chosen by 52.6 percent of supporters of the opposition People Power Party (PPP), while his rating was only 3.7 percent among those aligned with the DP.

In a separate poll by Realmeter released Monday, Yoon came in second behind the DP leader and ahead of the Gyeonggi governor.

Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl returns to work at the Supreme Prosecutors Office in Seoul on Dec. 1, 2020, after the Seoul Administrative Court granted an injunction requested by him against Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae's order to suspend him from duty. (Yonhap)

The result came amid a growing conflict between the top prosecutor and Justice Minister Choo, who have been at loggerheads over prosecution reforms and a series of high-profile cases.

On Nov. 24, Choo ordered the suspension of Yoon from duty as she sought a disciplinary measure against him over allegations of interference in politically sensitive cases.

On Tuesday, Yoon returned to work after a court granted an injunction sought by him to suspend the enforcement of the order.

The veteran prosecutor has yet to announce his intention to run in the 2022 presidential election. But he said during a parliamentary session in late October that he would consider how to serve the nation after his retirement. The remark was interpreted as an indication of his willingness to enter politics.

In the R&Search poll, the three were followed distantly by minor prospective candidates -- independent lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo with 5.6 percent, former Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon with 4.5 percent, People's Party leader Ahn Cheol-soo with 2.7 percent, former lawmaker Yoo Seong-min with 2.4 percent and Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun with 2 percent. Hong, Ahn and Yoo ran in the last presidential election in 2017.

Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in's approval rating fell 1.2 percentage points to 40.5 percent.

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