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South Korea's former prosecutor lashes out at Seoul in official presidential bid

South Korea's former prosecutor lashes out at Seoul in official presidential bid
Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl (C) said Tuesday at Yoon Bong-gil Memorial Hall in southern Seoul that President Moon Jae-in's administration divided the country. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

June 29 (UPI) -- A former South Korean prosecutor who clashed with members of President Moon Jae-in's administration launched his presidential bid Tuesday with a speech accusing the government of corruption and incompetence.

Yoon Seok-youl, 60, said during a press conference at Yoon Bong-gil Memorial Hall in southern Seoul that Moon's administration polarized the country, JoongAng Ilbo reported.

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The government "divided citizens into two sides, discarded common sense, fairness and rule of law while undermining the foundations of the nation, causing the people to descend into frustration and anger," Yoon said.

"It is difficult to list all the atrocities committed by this government."

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Yoon was appointed prosecutor general by Moon in July 2019 after investigating the corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye. The case ultimately led to Park's imprisonment.

Moon praised Yoon at the time, calling him a "man of integrity not swayed by pressure from power."

But Yoon quickly fell out of favor with powerful members of the administration after he investigated former Justice Minister Cho Kuk for school admission-related bribes. Cho's successor Choo Mi-ae suspended Yoon, but a court granted his motion for an injunction against his suspension.

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The former prosecutor has surged in popularity in polls in Korea, where skyrocketing home prices and dwindling employment opportunities have been blamed on government policy.

Yoon said the government's economic policies "defied common sense" and the housing crisis is the result of official disregard of basic market principles. Yoon also described Seoul's approach to the economy as "populist."

South Korea's main opposition People Power Party praised Yoon for his speech Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

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Lee Jun-seok, the 36-year-old party chair, said Yoon's remarks resonated with South Koreans who seeks a change in administration.

Yoon is not affiliated with the PPP, but he may form a coalition with the main opposition or bring his campaign to the party, according to reports.

South Korea's presidential election is to take place on March 9, 2022.

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