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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 5)

Editorials from Korean dailies 06:44 October 05, 2021

'King' mark dispute
Yoon should make sincere apology for degrading politics

Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, now the leading presidential contender of the opposition People Power Party (PPP), has triggered controversy for having the Chinese character for "king" written on his left palm. Yoon was seen with the mark during three recent live television debates among the PPP's presidential contenders.

Yoon's rivals from the opposition party and even the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) have raised the suspicion that Yoon was relying on shamanistic rituals with the goal of maintaining the upper hand over other hopefuls in the presidential primary race. Yoon explained Sunday the symbol was written "by his supporters for him to do well in the debate with the self-confidence and spirit of a king."

He refuted the allegation that such an act had ritualistic implications as "speculation." "In retrospect, I think it would have been better for me to have erased the mark before the debate began," he said. Yoon's explanation raised a further dispute as it contradicts previous remarks made by an associate who said they had attempted to erase the character, "but to no avail."

In the face of growing criticism, Yoon's camp urged the people to regard the case with "generosity," saying they could not ignore the wishes of his supporters. Rep. Hong Joon-pyo, who is chasing Yoon closely in the PPP primary contest, alleged Yoon had a shaman helping him in the presidential race, describing the character as similar to a talisman on his hand.

It is nonsense for a presidential hopeful running in a primary to cherish the character of "king" written on his palm as a blessing. King refers to the supreme ruler in a monarchic state with absolute power inherited from his predecessor, in reigning over the people. Given this, it is totally inappropriate to use it in relation to the president of a democratic nation, who is the country's No. 1 "civil servant" dedicated to the people.

Yoon should have pondered about the meaning of the character "king" and refrained from such reckless behavior. His "absent-mindedness" deepens skepticism over his caliber and qualification as a presidential aspirant of the main opposition party.

A primary debate is a significant procedure in the presidential election which is key to the political process in a democratic society. The debate is an official stage where the contenders are supposed to get a public appraisal of their qualifications to run for the presidency. It is a discourtesy to the people to have the character for "king" seen on his palm repeatedly, deepening skepticism that Yoon might have an outdated political philosophy.

Yoon cannot avoid criticism for having downgraded and even caricatured the election process. Oftentimes, Yoon has been the target of criticism for his slips of the tongue on major national issues in diverse areas. We hope Yoon will never again commit mistakes that will downgrade his dignity as a statesman running in the presidential election of a democratic state.
(END)

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