What They Said is a regular series on the quotes Korea is talking about.
On November 5, former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl won the People Power Party primary with 47.85% of party votes and became the party’s presidential candidate.
In his acceptance speech, Yoon said:
Respected people of Korea! Beloved members of the People Power Party! This is Yoon Seok-youl, who has been elected as presidential candidate for the People Power Party. More than joy, I feel a great sense of responsibility and a heavy sense of duty toward the change of government.
Because this was a new path, and my first time on this path, there were many shortcomings. But there are no winners or losers here today. If we win on March 9 next year, everyone will be a winner; otherwise we will all go down in history as losers. I will uphold the dreams and visions of the three [other candidates] who have been with us until the end of the primaries.
Now we are a team. We cannot afford to be divided in the face of the great cause of a change of government. If we fail to respond to the people’s ardent wishes, we will all be committing an indelible sin before the people and history. I cannot accomplish the mission of changing the government alone. We must all be united.
Respected fellow citizens! Beloved members of the party! The People Power Party is reviving. The people’s desire for change and innovation in our party led to the appointment of a young man in his thirties as the party’s leader for the first time in its constitutional history. Our party has been reborn as a party supported by young people. In their desire to restore fairness and common sense in our society, the people have chosen me, a political rookie, as the People Power Party’s presidential candidate. With those hopes, I can confidently say this to the people: “I will surely achieve a change of government together with you.”
Respected fellow citizens! I know how much you are suffering because of Covid-19. I am keenly aware of the pain the government’s misjudgment and incompetence are causing you in your lives. I will defend and protect the people from the Covid crisis. I will restore to pre-Covid levels the lives of the common people and the vulnerable, which have been destroyed by the Covid pandemic. The suffering caused by this government’s divisive ways has been no less than that. How difficult and painful have your lives been during the four and a half years of this administration? This presidential election is a battle between the commonsensical Yoon Seok-youl and the nonsensical Lee Jae-myung. It’s a battle between a rationalist and a populist.
Once again, please denounce this audacity, which seeks victory without principle by appointing a candidate who represents divisiveness and populism. I will change this country from “a country of vested interests” to “a country of opportunities”; from a “Republic of Korea rife with plundering” to a “Republic of Korea based on fairness”. I will definitely change the government. I will end the politics of division and anger, of corruption and plunder. I will surely create a new Republic of Korea.
— Yoon Seok-youl, People Power Party presidential candidate, November 5, 2021.
Park Yong-jin: There was nothing unique
Following Yoon’s speech, Park Yong-jin, a National Assembly member for the Democratic Party of Korea, who had run in the Democratic Party’s primaries and currently serves as the co-head of the Election Countermeasures Committee for the Lee Jae-myung campaign, appeared on a CBS radio show to say that the Democratic Party wasn’t threatened by Yoon’s candidacy. When asked to opine on Yoon’s speech, Park said:
Mostly, [Yoon] appealed to the people who want a change of government and to his supporters. His speech wasn’t about what he can do well or saying that he can do certain things well—instead he just talked about the challenges of the times, and how he would be used as a tool in the process. He did list some of the tasks, such as national unity and so on, but there wasn’t any vision that was unique to Yoon Seok-youl. I didn’t hear anything that would be important for a presidential candidate to say, about how he would lay certain foundations during the five years of his term for the future 50 years of the Republic of Korea going forward. Instead, it was like, “Everyone, you don’t like Moon Jae-in, do you? People, the Moon Jae-in administration is wrong, isn’t it? Folks, don’t you hate the Democratic Party? Then pick me.” This is what he kept repeating again and again. I think that strongly limits Candidate Yoon Seok-youl and the People Power Party. So, as I said earlier, rather than attacking and investigating the other presidential candidates, I’m thinking that we should focus more energy on changing our party, recognizing that we have problems, that the Democratic Party itself has issues that need to be resolved.
— Park Yong-jin, co-chair of the Lee Jae-myung campaign’s Election Countermeasures Committee, November 5, 2021.
Hong Joo-pyo: “Be a party that follow’s the people’s hearts”
Hong Joon-pyo, who had been the leading candidate in the People Power Party based on national polls, accepted his defeat in the primaries. When asked by the Yoon Seok-youl campaign to join them, Hong flatly declined, saying that his role had been to make the primaries more dynamic and interesting, and also expressed his disinterest in participating in a presidential election rife with allegations of corruption involving the Prosecution Service.
The next presidential election is turning into something like outlaws in the sunset.
In these strange primaries, I won the hearts of the people but lost the heart of the party.
But I accepted my defeat cleanly, according to the rules of the primary election. I hope that the People Power Party does not think the president will be elected based on the opinions of the party members, who account for less than one percent of the entire population. Instead, be a party that follows the people’s hearts. This will be a grueling election where the one who loses could go to jail. I hope that we survive in this election of mudslinging.
— Hong Joon-pyo, former People Power Party presidential candidate, November 8, 2021.
Kim Dong-yeon: “It’s a complete plagiarism”
On a slightly different note, Kim Dong-yeon, former Deputy Prime Minister under the Moon Jae-in administration, claimed that a phrase Yoon Seok-youl used in his acceptance speech had been plagiarized. On November 8, he appeared on an MBC radio show to explain that the phrase “from a country of vested interests to a country of opportunities” had in fact been his slogan:
It’s a complete plagiarism. I came up with the phrase “from a country of vested interests to a country of opportunities”. Writing books over the past three years, I thought hard about the keywords that could be used to resolve all the structural issues in the Republic of Korea, the fundamental issues, and I landed on the term “opportunity”. … And I described the problems in our society as the issues of vested interests, which arise from the winner-takes-all structure. I said we need to break through that and turn our country into one overflowing with opportunities. And regarding opportunities, I said more opportunities, fairer opportunities, and better opportunities. I’ve used that for a long time, as all the problems of our society are connected, and I also used it as my main slogan when I announced that I would be running in the presidential election, and he took and used that. It’s obviously plagiarism. And the other funny thing is that the vested interests that need to be destroyed now are the candidate Yoon Seok-youl and these huge parties. Yet, a person with vested interests is saying that they need to destroy vested interests and talking of a country of opportunities. It is absurd.
— Kim Dong-yeon, former Deputy Prime Minister, November 8, 2021.