- Oct 1, 2018
- 263d 12h 8m
South Korea is a country that punches above its weight. The nation of 52 million is crammed onto a plot of land the size of Indiana with little natural resources to speak of, but that hasn’t stopped them from being a vibrant democracy with the 10th largest economy in the world (by nominal GDP) and the 6th most powerful military. While technology exports have dominated South Korea’s industrialized economy for decades, cultural exports—such as Parasite and Squid Game—have elevated their global profile in recent years.
South Korean President-elect and "incel", Yoon Seok-yeol
This past week, the conservative “incel” candidate Yoon Seok-yeol prevailed by a margin of less than 1% in a tight race against left-wing candidate Lee Jae-Myung, with voter turnout exceeding 77%. The South Korean president is elected via a first-past-the-post popular vote, and winners are limited to serving a single term of five years.
Foreign Policy: Deeper Engagement with the United States
Incumbent South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets Chinese President Xi Jinping
Under left-wing incumbent Moon Jae-in’s administration, South Korea’s foreign policy revolved around “strategic ambiguity”: maintain a delicate balancing act by preserving economic ties with China and military ties with the United States. In a 2021 press conference, Moon claimed that Seoul’s relationships with both Washington and Beijing are “equally important”.
To this end, Moon promised to 1) not deploy any additional THAAD missile defense systems, 2) not participate in the United States’ missile defense network, and 3) not form a trilateral military alliance with the United States and Japan (the “three No”s). He has tiptoed around discussion of China’s human rights issues, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. In terms of inter-Korean relations, Moon made regular concessions to the Kim regime, including scaling back military exercises with the United States, in a bid to formally end the Korean War, to no avail. Offering a diplomatic olive branch, Moon opened a liaison office in the border town of Kaesong in 2018; two years later, Kim Jong-Un bombed it in a show of defiance.
The left-wing candidate, Lee Jae-Myung, essentially promised to maintain Moon’s foreign policy.
President-elect Yoon will do the opposite. The conservative “incel” is hawkish and unambiguously pro-American; ditching "strategic ambiguity" for "strategic clarity". On the campaign trail, he promised to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden before any other foreign leader once elected. “South Korea has benefited from the global and regional order led by the United States,” Yoon wrote in a February 2022 article in Foreign Affairs, “A deeper alliance with Washington should be the central axis of Seoul’s foreign policy.” To that end, the incoming South Korean government intends to support the rules-based international order by aligning itself with other liberal democracies. What does that mean in practice?
To start, South Korea will plan more frequent military exercises with the United States, and assume a stronger role in the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. Yoon will also seek closer trade and intelligence ties with Japan, which many older South Koreans resent for imperialism in WWII. He will likely continue the Moon administration’s plan to join CP-TPP, but also prioritize spending on development aid and global public health, and seek participation in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (“Quad”)—an informal alliance between the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India.
The U.S. Missile Defense Agency tests the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system, or "THAAD"
Notably, Yoon’s foreign policy approach will be less deferential towards Pyongyang and Beijing. Criticizing Moon’s “three No” promises to China, Yoon wrote that “These pledges undercut South Korea’s sovereign right to protect its people…[South Korea] must always maintain the principled position that it will not compromise on its core security interests.” To this end, the incoming South Korean government will consider additional THAAD deployments, which would anger Beijing, as they consider THAAD a potential counter to Chinese nuclear capabilities. Yoon will also not rule out the redeployment of American nuclear weapons in South Korea, should inter-Korean tensions worsen. While he has promised to continue Moon’s program of humanitarian aid to North Korea, he would not agree to an end-of-war declaration unless North Korea denuclearizes.
While Yoon’s critics painted him as belligerent, his hawkish approach obviously resonated with South Korean voters. In the first two months of this year alone, North Korea provocatively conducted over ten ballistic missile tests.
During a presidential debate on February 25th, one day after Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine, Yoon's opponent Lee Jae-Myung blamed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for being a “political novice” who provoked Russia by seeking ties with the West. Yoon immediately took the opportunity to emphasize the necessity of deterrence and national defense, instead of relying on the naive belief that aggressive autocrats would honor peace agreements. Yoon’s campaign followed up with a press release, noting that “[Writing the Russian invasion] off as a problem of some country on the other side of the world reflects a lack of proper understanding of international relations in the 21st century.” Although Lee later walked back his comments on Ukraine following a media backlash, the damage was done.
Domestic Policy: Countering Feminazism in South Korea
The challenges facing young South Koreans, especially men, are numerous. Soaring housing prices are crippling chances at homeownership—property prices have almost doubled in Seoul in the last five years. Income inequality is widening. Marriage rates are plummeting amongst South Korea’s working- and lower-middle-classes. South Korea’s fertility rate is 0.84 per woman, well below the population replacement rate and below the rest of the Asia-Pacific; an aging population could stunt South Korea’s long-term economic growth.
Despite strong economic growth, job competition is fierce, with youth unemployment standing at 9% as of 2021. South Korean men are obligated to serve in the military; women are not. While young men have to pause their careers for two years, young women are free to pursue internships, degrees, exchange programs and otherwise gain experience that inevitably gives them an advantage in the civilian job market over young men in their age bracket—and yet affirmative action still remains to support women.
Some of President-elect Yoon’s domestic policies are uncontroversial. Subsidized homes for first-time buyers, constructing 2.5 million additional homes, fewer corporate regulations to increase labor market flexibility, and incentivize lending to small businesses. But among his more controversial policies is his promise to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, also known as the women’s ministry, and to increase criminal penalties against those who lie about sexual assault.
Unsurprisingly, Yoon’s SJW opponents describe him in near-hysterical terms. “If Yoon Seok-yeol does prevail on 9 March…that will be an ominous sign for South Korea’s future,” writes Korean-American male feminist S. Nathan Park, on UnHerd. Young South Korean men have turned towards “aggressive misogyny and anti-feminism”, he continues, describing the presidential race as an “incel election”. “The 2022 presidential election is our most misogynistic in history,” says Haein Shim, spokeswoman of the Seoul-based feminist group Haeil, in an interview with VICE. “The presidential election is turning into a competition to determine who hates and discriminates against women the most,” according to another feminist interviewee.
Anti-feminism is at the forefront of this year’s Korean presidential election, with populist candidates mobilizing an army of angry young male voters.
Harvardcel Lee Jun-Seok speaks at a campaign event
Much of the feminist vitriol directed against South Korea’s conservatives is targeted against Lee Jun-Seok (no relation to Lee Jae-Myung), the leader of South Korea’s predominant conservative party and one of Yoon’s close allies and strongest ideological influences. Lee Jun-Seok, also labeled as an “incel”, is 5’8 and single. He is also a former venture capitalist who studied at Harvard College on a full scholarship, graduating with a double concentration in economics and computer science. At the age of 36, Lee Jun-Seok is too young for the South Korean presidency, but his sizeable bloc of antifeminist supporters is valuable for Yoon and has made him a bogeyman of the left. The conservative party’s young boss [is] a hero for internet misogynists,” screams a subheadline in an article by the left-leaning journalist Kim Arin, after Lee Jun-Seok described feminism as "blowfish poison".
Yoon Seok-youl and his wife, Kim Kun-hee
Yoon’s platform may not conform to the progressive orthodoxy, but there exists no indication that he is an “incel” or even “blackpilled”. Indeed, he is married, but when have facts ever gotten in the way of SJWs’ logic?
The "Incel" Receives a Warm Welcome
For foreign and economic policy wonks, the “incel” victory in this week’s election is an undeniably positive development for Washington’s strategic interests.
U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class and ROK Navy Sejong the Great-class guided-missile destroyers conduct a manoeuvring exercise
The Washington Post’s liberal-leaning Editorial Board sang South Korea’s praises: “A welcome turn toward the U.S.” A similar sentiment was expressed by the Wall Street Journal’s conservative-leaning Editorial Board: “An opportunity for closer security ties between Seoul and Washington.”
Absolutely. Bringing in South Korea, a rising regional power, as a stalwart and committed ally would not only further the U.S. State Department’s diplomatic initiatives in Southeast Asia, but also assist the United States Navy’s burden of securing the Indo-Pacific waters, especially if continued Russian aggression requires an American pivot to Europe. U.S. President Joe Biden has already called and invited Yoon, the "incel", to visit Washington later this year; U.S.-South Korea ties are the “linchpin for peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific,” according to a statement by the White House.
American diplomats “are breathing a sigh of relief at Yoon’s victory,” according to Professor Lee Sung-Yoon, who is a North Korea expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a former Research Associate at the Korea Institute of Harvard University and has testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The incoming “incel” government will likely benefit South Korea’s other partners as well. “[Yoon’s victory] bodes well for expanding Australia-South Korea economic relations,” writes Professor Gordon Flake of the Perth USAsia Centre at the University of Western Australia. “When it comes to foreign and security issues, it is obvious that Japan holds more visions in common with Mr. Yoon,” says Professor Yuki Asaba, who teaches Korean Studies at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
The Culture War: Incelophobia Derangement Syndrome
Whilst career diplomats and seasoned policymakers celebrate in Washington, Tokyo, and Canberra, the basement-dwelling soy-guzzling losers over at r/IncelTear are extremely upset.
“A National Sex Strike in Korea would put the pressure on this incel piece of shit,” rages u/Armycat1-296, referring to Yoon.
“South Korea has raised a generation of whiny crybabies,” moans u/AelfredRex.
“I pray for the people of that beautiful country, especially the women,” u/zoomie1977 whines.
Twitter was triggered as well:
Here’s the billion-won question: why do these uninformed Redditards and Twittercucks so vehemently oppose President-elect Yoon Seok-yeol, who would align the South Korean people with the free world and strengthen the United States’ position in the Asia-Pacific?
Is it because they hate America and the West? Probably. We can glean from their extremely hostile attitude towards freedom of speech and due process that many r/IncelTear members adopt a political philosophy that aligns closer to the likes of Xi, Putin, and Kim; instead of Locke, Mill, or Rawls. But there is also another explanation at play: Incelophobia Derangement Syndrome.
Those who suffer from IDS cannot help but view public policy through a lens as shallow and myopic as possible: that is, “MiSogYNy”. If you don’t conform to the progressive orthodoxy, you’re part of the “other”, you’re an evil that must be banished. If you even dare suggest that women are privileged, which they are, you’re an incel. Even if you’re a man who’s been married for a decade. Additionally, IDS-positive SJWs are a single-issue group who ignore incredibly pressing issues in order to preserve femoid privilege: who cares about foreign policy, the economy, or the nuclear-armed menace to the north?
Although SJWs frequently and baselessly accuse the incel community of racism, their condescending attitude towards South Korean society and voters is on full display. The last thing that any South Korean who lives under the threat of nuclear annihilation needs is for an obese, pink-haired feminazi in suburban America to lecture them on gender equality. South Koreans are not “crybabies”; they are an intelligent, cultured, and hardworking people who do not need soy-guzzling Redditors on the other side of the world to tell them how to vote. These Redditors’ attitudes are fundamentally patronizing and hypocritical.
The South Korean people voted for a deeper strategic partnership with Washington and other allies, and a rejection of radical feminism. This is truly a welcome and exciting development.
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