(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 12)

Yoon's turn to change Drastic overhaul needed to address daunting post-election challenges The heated race for the April 10 general elections has ended with a landslide victory of the opposition bloc against President Yoon Suk Yeol's governing People Power Party (PPP). Yoon will apparently suffer from a significant setback, as the election result impacts his remaining three years in office. With his PPP securing only 108 out of 300 seats in the National Assembly, Yoon is poised to be relegated to the status of a lame-duck president. In contrast, the opposition camp, led by the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), has clinched a commanding majority with 192 seats, presenting a stark comparison to the PPP's diminished standing. The election result showed voters' dissatisfaction with Yoon and the PPP. The birth of an unprecedentedly massive opposition bloc signals a resounding message. Yoon must graciously accept this outcome as a stern judgment and referendum on both himself and the PPP. It's time to redouble e fforts toward meaningful change. Fresh from the election defeat, Yoon pledged to initiate sweeping reforms within the presidential office, announcing a significant reshuffle of his staff on Thursday. However, before anything else, Yoon himself must undergo a transformation. He should abandon the unilateral approach to governance rooted in authoritarian leadership and shed the damaging perception of being an uncommunicative leader. Embracing collaboration with opposition parties is essential to garner their support in addressing the challenges facing the country. The PPP will likely be thrust into an extreme state of confusion since its interim leader Han Dong-hoon announced he was quitting the post, Thursday, assuming responsibility for the election defeat. Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and presidential secretaries also expressed their intentions to resign. This will escalate an in-house standoff between pro-Yoon members and those on the other side. The opposition bloc, for its part, appears highly elated by the election win. However, it's crucial for the DPK to remember that this victory is primarily attributed to the repeated missteps made by Yoon and the ruling party, rather than being entirely earned. There's a concerning likelihood that the nation's politics will plunge into a period of extreme uncertainty. With the Yoon government losing the momentum necessary to efficiently carry out state affairs, the path ahead appears fraught with challenges. With such worrisome factors looming over the nation, it is imperative for all parties involved to join hands and make concerted efforts to foster national unity. It's time to move beyond the division and confrontation that characterized the election campaign period. Previous campaigns have often been marred by slanderous attacks by rival parties, particularly in the lead-up to the final phase. The recent competition for the 22nd National Assembly has been significantly tainted by negative campaigning. We express grave concerns over the potential fallout from such practices. Over the past four years, the political sector has become a focal point of public distrust, increasingly perceived as a battlefield and breeding ground for conflict and antagonism. Rival parties have fiercely locked horns, exacerbating the situation. For starters, mutual efforts are needed to heal the scars left by the parliamentary polls. The smear campaigns only served to deepen existing hatred, while negative campaigning often demonized opponents. Candidates were all too eager to make reckless disparaging remarks, further worsening distrust instead of seeking dialogue and compromise founded on mutual respect. In the lead-up to the elections, national divisions have intensified, with rival parties actively seeking to sow discord among voters. Against this backdrop, some foreign media outlets have characterized the situation as "gladiator-style politics" dominating the polarized Korean elections. The parties also took flak for forwarding seemingly populist policies to entice voter support. Now, the new lawmakers and the Yoon Suk Yeol administration should cooperate to adopt feasible and urgent policies. They need to focus on implementing the most urgent projects in the right direction. It's crucial to recognize that fulfilling all pledges made during the election campaign must be approached with careful consideration of their feasibility and appropriateness. Given the budgetary constraints, it's imperative to reassess all policies proposed by the parties and engage in debates from a fresh perspective. Furthermore, rival parties should collaborate to advance projects that are deemed beneficial for the people, fostering a spirit of cooperation and unity. In the post-election era, people's major interests will be focused on economic issues and their livelihood. Currently, the national economy faces daunting challenges amid high interest rates, soaring inflation and a weak Korean won. We have no time to lose. With the elections over, we need to concentrate on finding a proper solution to the economic i ssues and transcend the political and ideological standoff. Efforts should also be focused on solving pending issues such as the low birthrate and aging society, as well as medical, education and pension reforms. All these issues are awaiting inter-party cooperation to ensure the sustainable growth of the nation. All these and other tasks will find clues only when Yoon attempts to change himself first, humbly accepting the election defeat. Yoon should bear in mind that he and his party will surely face the same fate in the forthcoming presidential and general elections unless they change completely. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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