South Korea’s main liberal candidate, Lee Jae-myung, began his presidential bid with a speech that spoke squarely to the nation’s simmering angst and its struggling center class.
“We’ve got to usher in a world where all can live well together, take care of the weak, and curb the vanity of the strong, who often resort to privilege and foul play,” Mr. Lee said in a video address last summer.
But the best problem for the labor-lawyer-turned-politician on this race, specialists say, is his have to signify the ruling Democratic Party whereas additionally distinguishing himself from President Moon Jae-in.
Though Mr. Moon has loved excessive approval rankings in comparison with most South Korean presidents, the nation has continued to endure from runaway housing costs and a youth unemployment crisis beneath his watch.
Born in 1964 within the small jap city of Andong, in North Gyeongsang Province, Mr. Lee grew to become referred to as the previous “factory boy” and the son of a house cleaner who rose out of poverty to turn out to be a profitable mayor and governor.
One of seven kids, he skipped center faculty to work at numerous factories within the northwestern metropolis of Seongnam, roughly 12.5 miles from Seoul. According to Mr. Lee, a number of office accidents — together with one the place his arm was caught in a press machine — left him legally disabled by his late teenagers, when South Korea exempted him from its mandatory military service.
Mr. Lee then earned a highschool equivalency diploma and received a scholarship to Seoul’s Chung-Ang University. After graduating, he returned to the city he labored in as a youngster to open his personal workplace as a labor lawyer.
On the stump, he has lengthy credited these experiences as his inspiration for getting into politics. He was elected Seongnam’s mayor in 2010, a put up he held for about eight years. During that point, he created a citywide social welfare program, launched a modest common fundamental revenue program for younger adults, and offered free entry to highschool uniforms and postnatal care.
As the governor of Gyeonggi, South Korea’s most populous province, from 2018 to 2021, Mr. Lee impressed voters by swiftly addressing a collection of points that grew to become scorching political subjects. Among them: He pushed for increasing the usage of surveillance cameras in hospital working rooms after the invention that some docs have been assigning unlicensed employees to carry out surgical procedure. He additionally led profitable efforts to supply residents with stimulus cash throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike his major rival, the firebrand former chief prosecutor Yoon Suk-yeol, Mr. Lee has spoken in favor of financial cooperation with North Korea. He is the one candidate to have promised a common fundamental revenue plan that may finally distribute not less than 1 million won (about $814) to all residents per yr.
His plan would additionally scale as much as supply a larger sum of 2 million won — not less than $1,629 per year — to 19- to 29-year-olds yearly, a demographic that each candidates are vigorously competing for.