Wednesday Briefing: A Divided South Korea Votes

South Korea’s politics are more divided than ever.Credit…Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea’s polarized election

South Koreans are heading to the polls today to ​select a new Parliament after a particularly fraught campaign. The general election, the first since President Yoon Suk-yeol won the presidency in 2022, is seen as a midterm referendum on his leadership.

Voting was getting underway across the country, just as we sent this newsletter.

Many parties are vying for 300 seats in the Parliament. But the election is largely a contest between Yoon’s conservative People Power Party and the main opposition group, the liberal Democratic Party, led by Lee Jae-myung. It has become a bitter contest between the two archrivals, who are locked in what is known as “gladiator politics.”

Both sides, analysts say, have focused on demonizing the other instead of offering policy proposals, and that acrimony has filtered down to voters. Many analysts expect the coming election to amplify polarization in the country.

Here’s a full explanation of the stakes of the vote.

Analysis: “This election is about who you want to punish, Yoon Suk-yeol or Lee Jae-myung,” said Eom Kyeong-young, an election analyst at the Zeitgeist Institute in Seoul.

The climate-related lawsuit against Switzerland was brought by a group of older women. Credit…Christian Hartmann/Reuters
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