South Korean voters have narrowly chosen conservative former prosecutor-general Yoon Suk-yeol to be their next president. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the 61-year-old candidate of the People Power Party received 48.56 percent of the votes.

The agency noted that his closest rival, Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party, had obtained 47.82. The difference of less than one percent made this the closest presidential election in the country's history. Yonhap said.

According to the White House website, U.S. President Joe Biden made a congratulatory phone call to Yoon.

The United States and South Korea alliance was "the linchpin for peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said.

Writing in The New York Times, Choe Sang-Hun said Yoon had been seeking "a more confrontational stance against North Korea and a stronger alliance with the United States."

Frustration with the Democratic Party

Frustration with the liberal Democratic Party had driven voters to choose the conservatives, Kyung Hee University Professor Ahn Byong-jin told Choe. Among the reasons for discontent were rising housing prices and instances of sexual harassment publicized by Korea's #MeToo movement, Choe said.

In 2020, the BBC reported that the mayor of Seoul, a Democratic Party member, had taken his own life soon after being accused by his secretary of sexual harassment. The BBC said that more than 500,000 Koreans had then signed a petition objecting to the mayor being given a state funeral.

NPR noted that Yoon's presidency would probably be encumbered by the country's parliament, which the Democratic Party still dominated.

The New York Times also noted that, as president, Yoon would be limited to a single five-year term.

The face of K-Trumpism

Writing in The Korea Herald, Yim Hyun-su noted that political observers had noted similarities between Yoon and former U.S. President Donald Trump. Both politicians were prone to xenophobic and anti-Chinese rhetoric, Yim said.

In addition, neither politician was a friend of feminism, the journalist said.

Yim said that both men used vague language to advocate simplistic policies that could often be reduced to slogans. In addition, both politicians had made heavy use of social media to contact their followers, Yim said. Observers told Yim that Yoon had become the face of K-Trumpism, a local variant of conservative populism.

A backlash against feminism

The Guardian reported that Yoon had described himself as an "anti-feminist." The paper said he had also promised to eliminate the government's Ministry for Gender Equality and Family.

NPR said that Yoon had blamed feminists for South Korea's falling birth rate. The public broadcaster said that his campaign had benefited from a backlash against feminism among Korea's young men.