Amid ‘missing politics’, Yoon Boksim Han Dong-hoon and NP dark horse Kim Dong-yeon emerge as alternatives to 與野 next president

As next year’s general election approaches, interest in the ruling and opposition parties’ next candidates is growing.

In the conservative camp, Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon is the center of attention. According to a poll conducted by ResearchView on April 29-30 among 1,000 adult men and women nationwide (sampling error is ±3.1 percentage points with a 95% confidence level; for more information, please visit the website of the Central Election Opinion Research and Review Committee), Han Dong-hoon was followed by former Representative Yoo Seung-min (18%) and Minister Han (16%). 

Given that former lawmaker Yoo was in competition with President Yoon in the last presidential election, the presence of Minister Han, who has been called a “political newcomer” and Yoon’s “alter ego,” stands out.

In particular, Yoo is a former lawmaker who had a close relationship with Yoon, which may make it difficult for him to stand out in the upcoming general election. 

The general consensus is that President Yoon Seok-yul and the ruling Kim Ki-hyun administration need no one more than Minister Han for the success of Yoon’s government. Only if a minister stands as a symbolic figure as a “signboard” for the general election, the ruling party can put the reputation of the Yoon administration on the line and take the lead in the second half of the regime in the general election. In the case of Yoo Jeon or Daegu Mayor Hong Joon-pyo, the ruling mainstream would have to rely on a minister to stand out from the Yoon administration, as they would have to focus on differentiating themselves.

The situation is a bit more complicated for the Democratic Party. Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung remains the frontrunner. According to the same survey by ResearchView, Lee Jae-myung has the highest preference for a pan-progressive candidate at 38%. Former Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Nak-yeon followed with 14%. The problem is that Lee is currently leading the party, and is currently under fire for his role in the recent “Kim Nam-guk coin investment” scandal. There is also a judicial risk. If Lee is able to offset the judicial risk by securing an exoneration, it could be a different story, but there is also a cautious discussion within the Democratic Party of Korea about post-jae-myung.

The most prominent figures in this regard are Lee and Lee Nak-yeon, who competed for the presidency during the last presidential election. The latest ‘dark horse’ to emerge is Gyeonggi-do Governor Kim Dong-yeon. <According to the results of a poll commissioned by Newstomato and conducted by MediaTomato on March 16-17 among 1080 adult voters nationwide (sampling error: ±3.0 percentage points with a 95% confidence level; for details, see the website of the Central Election Opinion Research and Review Committee), when asked who is the most suitable alternative to Lee Jae-myung, Gyeonggi-do Governor Kim Dong-yeon (15.9%) was chosen after former President Lee Nak-yeon (17.1%). Recently, Kim has been making his presence felt in the diplomatic arena, attacking Yoon on what he sees as her “weakness.

Of course, it should be noted that 33.9 percent of respondents answered 토토사이트“none” to the question “who is the best alternative to Lee Jae-myung,” but the fact that Kim, who has been polling in the single digits among presidential candidates, has risen above 15 percent is a clear sign of change. In particular, Kim’s 22.7% favorability rating among the Democratic Party’s supporters created a significant gap with former Prime Minister Kim Boo-gyeom (8.3%) and former Representative Lee Nak-yeon (7.9%). In Gwangju-Jeolla, the main support base of the Democratic Party, Kim won 19.2% of the vote, ahead of Lee Nak-yeon (16.4%) and Kim Boo-gyeom (14.2%).

Kim’s performance as governor of Gyeonggi-do is also not bad. While Kim won 49.1 percent of the vote in the election, the March 2023 regional governors’ ratings, released by pollster RealMeter in April, showed a 58.4 percent positive rating for Kim’s performance. Despite the recent bad press the Democratic Party has been experiencing, Kim has been strongly criticizing the Yoon administration through the media and social media, as well as calling for the Democratic Party to engage in reform and innovation at the level of the party’s founding.

For both the ruling and opposition parties, the key point to watch is the rise of a “new personality” who can replace Yoon Seok-yeol and Lee Jae-myung, the two main contenders for the presidency in the last presidential election, as well as their respective intra-party rivals, Yoo Seung-min and Lee Nak-yeon. 

On the ruling side, Yoon’s vice minister, Han Dong-hoon, has risen to prominence, while on the opposition side, Gyeonggi-do Governor Kim Dong-yeon has emerged. Both are “civil servants” rather than political figures. Han worked as a special prosecutor before rising to the position of justice minister, while Kim is an economic bureaucrat who served as Moon Jae-in’s deputy economy minister. While Kim has the advantage of electoral experience, having won the Gyeonggi-do governor’s race, Han has the advantage of strong support from the regime’s core. This is why it will be interesting to see how they perform in next year’s general election.

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