Left-leaning president and Tory successor fail to meet amid ‘bitterness’ rumors

Conservative South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol and incumbent South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a leftist, have not met as per tradition in recent days, reportedly due to apparent animosity between the two sides , as evidenced by public barbs against one another of their respective representatives, Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday.

Yoon won the South Korean presidential election on March 9. He successfully campaigned for the South Korean presidency as the candidate of the South Korean opposition People Power Party (PPP). Current South Korean President Moon Jae-in will complete a single five-year term on May 9. Moon was elected to the presidency of South Korea in May 2017 as the candidate of the leftist Democratic Party of Korea (DPK). Yoon previously served as Attorney General of South Korea from July 2019 to March 2021 under President Moon. This past connection between the two has apparently failed to bond Yoon and Moon ever since, as the pair have repeatedly failed to meet since March 9, as per custom.

A scheduled meeting between Yoon and Moon scheduled for March 16 was canceled at the last minute, allegedly because
The “pre-meeting working discussions” had not been completed in time, Yonhap reported. Representatives of both parties said at the time that the canceled conference – which would have served as the first in-person visit between Yoon and Moon since the March 9 presidential election – would be “rescheduled” to an undisclosed date. Attempts to arrange the postponed summit between Yoon and Moon failed over the past week, however.

Moon commented on March 24 on his and Yoon’s inability to hold a face-to-face meeting this month. Yonhap quoted Moon saying the following through his senior secretary for public communications, Park Soo-hyun:

I am a past president and president-elect Yoon is a new president. What negotiations are necessary for us to exchange greetings and advice? It’s not like we’re negotiating.

I have never heard of conditions being necessary for a president-elect to visit the president. I hope the president-elect will make a decision by himself without listening to others.

Yoon’s spokesperson, Kim Eun-hye, released the following statement on March 24 in response to Moon’s remarks:

It is extremely regrettable that [Moon] spoke as if there was a problem with President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s judgment and as if his advisers were clouding his judgment.

Additionally, given that the government transition is not going smoothly and at a time when responding to COVID-19 is vital [Chinese coronavirus] and the economic crisis, I cannot easily agree with the characterization of the meeting of the two peoples as a mere occasion to exchange greetings.

A specific disagreement between Yoon and Moon over the issue of presidential nominations appears to have contributed to friction between the two sides since March 9. Moon reserves the right to make last-minute appointments until his last day as president of South Korea. May 9.

“Moon’s Office Wednesday [March 23] announced the appointment of Rhee Chang-yong, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Asia and Pacific department, as the next head of the Bank of Korea, saying the selection was discussed with Yoon,” Yonhap detailed.

“But Yoon’s office refuted the claim, saying there was no prior consultation or recommendation,” according to the Seoul-based news agency.


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