Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

South Korea’s New President-Elect Wants to Beef Up Privatization and U.S. Militarization in the Pacific

A winner has emerged in what has been dubbed South Korea’s “unlikable election.” Winner and opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol has made inflammatory remarks about Chinese residents and women and loves U.S. imperialism.

Samuel Karlin

March 10, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share

Right-winger Yoon Suk-yeol has emerged as the winner of South Korea’s presidential election after a neck-and-neck race. Korean media dubbed this race the “unlikeable election” due to both candidates’ unpopularity, since both were embroiled in corruption scandals and supportive of a larger U.S. military presence in the Pacific.

This election came amid an economic crisis for South Korea, which has been hit especially hard by supply chain disruptions due to its economy’s reliance on exports. South Korea is also in a precarious geopolitical situation. As competition between the United States and China has been increasing, South Korean capitalists have been forced to pursue an unsustainable balancing act between relations with the United States, which is South Korea’s largest military partner, and China, which is South Korea’s largest trading partner. This is the context of the recent political shake-up in which a conservative populist eked out a victory over the traditional neoliberal candidate.

Yoon, of the conservative and misleadingly named People’s Power Party, has been referred to as “Korea’s Trump,” a nickname that comes from his inflammatory comments about immigrants and his opposition to gender equality. On International Women’s Day, Yoon disavowed “feminism” to signal to his base of anti-women voters that they would not have to question his commitment to rolling back women’s rights. He has promised to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, which provides support to sexual assault survivors and single mothers. Along with fueling reactionary anti-women sentiments in South Korea, which have been on the rise, Yoon has also fueled rising anti-China sentiments, discussing Chinese residents as a burden on South Korea’s healthcare system.

This rhetoric is particularly dangerous in the context of U.S. imperialism’s growing focus on containing China. As part of his closer alignment with U.S. interests, Yoon has signaled that he will take a more aggressive stance on North Korea, which is more or less an ally of China and has long been a target of U.S. imperialism. Yoon has said that South Korea’s current government is too ambiguous on where it stands and has made clear that as president, he intends to bring South Korea closer into U.S. imperialism’s orbit by working more closely with the Quad and AUKUS alliances, which exist as part of U.S. imperialism’s focus on encircling China. As the governments of Japan, Australia, and now possibly South Korea work to expand U.S. military control of the Pacific, the threat of a military conflict between the United States and China increases.

Along with putting South Korea’s working class in danger by helping to expand U.S. imperialism’s presence in the Pacific, Yoon also threatens workers with policies that will give more control of the economy to the private sector. He wants to deregulate South Korea’s virtual asset industry and to allow the private sector, not the government, to lead “job creation.” Amidst a housing crisis in South Korea, Yoon also plans to deregulate the housing market and let it be guided by “market principles.”

Yoon is a danger for South Korea’s working class, particularly immigrant workers and women. As he positions himself to get closer with the U.S. military, one of the most anti-worker institutions in the world, it is essential that the U.S. working class grow its international solidarity with workers in East Asia whose lives are threatened by their national bourgeoisie and a growing competition between the United States and China over control of the Pacific.

Facebook Twitter Share

Samuel Karlin

Samuel Karlin is a socialist with a background in journalism. He mainly writes for Left Voice about U.S. imperialism and international class struggle.


A hand holds a phone which displays the TikTok Logo

We Don’t Want TikTok Under Control of U.S. Capitalists — Put It Under the Control of its Workers and Users

The U.S. government wants to force the sale of the incredibly popular Chinese social media app. A TikTok owned by U.S. capitalists will only make things worse. We want TikTok under workers' control!

Nathaniel Flakin

April 6, 2024

China’s Rise, ‘Diminished Dependency,’ and Imperialism in Times of World Disorder

In this broad-ranging interview, originally published in LINKS, Trotskyist Fraction member Esteban Mercatante discusses how recent global shifts in processes of capital accumulation have contributed to China’s rise, the new (and old) mechanisms big powers use to plunder the Global South, and its implications for anti-imperialist and working-class struggles today.

Esteban Mercatante

September 22, 2023

Strike for Wages at Chevron-Australia Could Hit 5 Percent of Global Gas Production

Chevron workers in Western Australia are escalating a strike at two of the world's largest gas facilities. They are demanding wage rises and better working conditions.

Arthur Nicola

September 14, 2023

The Roots of the Rebellion at Foxconn

Jenny Chan is a researcher and professor at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. She is co-author of the book Dying for an iPhone. She spoke with La Izquerda Diario about the causes of the rebellion by workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Josefina L. Martínez

December 7, 2022


Tents at the Rutgers University in NJ during the Palestine encampment in May, 2024

What the Movement for Palestine Can Learn from the Rutgers Encampment Deal

The Gaza solidarity encampment at Rutgers New Brunswick ended in a deal between the administration and a negotiations team at the camp. It’s been a highly controversial decision. The experience at Rutgers shows the need for a truly democratic, bottom-up fight for Palestine.

Jason Koslowski

May 17, 2024

Victory for the UAW at Volkswagen Plant in Chattanooga Represents a Potential Turning Point for Labor

Following a year of strong union struggles, a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee has voted to unionize with the UAW. This victory, in the traditionally anti-union South, shows that the terrain of labor struggle in the U.S. is shifting.

Joey Eichler

May 17, 2024
Pro-Palestine encampment at UCLA in May, 2024.

“The Working Class has the Power to Stop this Genocide”: Interview with a UAW 4811 Rank and Filer

On Thursday May 15, 48,000 UAW Academic workers voted to authorize a strike, the largest academic workers union in the country to do so. Left Voice interviewed UAW 4811 member Peter Ross about what sparked this historic vote, and the labor movement’s fight for Palestine

Julia Wallace

May 16, 2024
A rally in Brooklyn, people hold up UAW signs

University of California Academic Workers Authorize Strike to Defend the Right to Protest

48,000 workers are one step closer to going on strike to demand that charges and academic sanctions be dropped for the students and faculty who protest the genocide in Palestine and UC’s financial and academic ties to Israel.

Madeleine Freeman

May 16, 2024