The main opposition People Power Party’s presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol embroiled himself in controversy once again by saying on Thursday on his visit to Gwangju and South Jeolla Province, “My joining of the People Power Party was an inevitable choice made,” following the previous day’s inappropriate remarks made in North Jeolla Province that have been criticized for degrading the socially marginalized, “Those in extreme poverty have no idea what freedom represents.”
“I felt obligated to contribute to a change of government. As I could not join the Minjoo Party of Korea, my joining of the People Power Party was an inevitable choice made,” said Yoon in an inauguration ceremony of the South Jeolla Province election campaign committee held in Suncheon on Thursday. His word choice of “inevitable” may have been an attempt to win over the hearts of voters in the region. Nevertheless, critics said that he should not have made such politically inappropriate comments. In response, Yoon explained, “When I made up my mind to enter politics, my aim was to join other political leaders if they have the same goal of change of government even if we have different opinions on the rest of issues,” adding that the PPP could not then embrace members whose ideas were different in most areas from the party’s directions. Yoon expressed his opposition to the repeated controversy over his choice of word by criticizing his competitors for deploying a smear campaign. “Citing only a part of my remarks is a mere distortion of my whole message,” he said.
Yoon also remarked on pro-Moon leaders on Thursday, “I know that we have those who fought for democratization in the 1980s. Regrettably, their fight did not observe spirits of free democracy but they did just follow the steps of those blinded by ideologies imported overseas.” Asked what the ideologies in question mean, he mentioned dependency theory from Latin America and North Korea’s state ideology of juche, “self-reliance.” Some interpreted such remarks as an implication to point out the current administration’s ideological narrow-mindedness while others criticized him for disparaging the democratization campaign in the 1980s.
Following his two-day visit to the Jeolla provinces, Yoon said on Thursday that he would be satisfied with a polling rate of either 10 or 15 percent in the provinces as the PPP’s presidential candidate. “If I gain support of residents in the Jeolla provinces, this will bring me to a landslide victory across the nation,” he emphasized.