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From would-be pastor to ‘fighting cock’, S.Korean president Yoon carves own route to the top -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO South Korea’s presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yel talks during a conference on his relocation plans for the presidency, held at Seoul, South Korea’s Transition Team Office, February 20, 2022.Jung Yeon Je/Pool via REUTERS

Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters). Yoon Suk–yeol is sworn-in as President. He was once a dreamer of being a pastor but became known as the ‘fighting cock,’ because of his persistence as a prosecutor.

Although he was elected as a former prosecutor-general in March, the 61 year-old only entered Korean politics officially when he declared his bid for the presidency. After he had been praised by the conservative bloc, he filed bribery cases against the key aide of outgoing President Moon Jae In – who was also the one who hired him.

Yoon was described by his colleagues as both frugal and determined. He ran for office on the ticket of fighting corruption, creating a level playing field in economic affairs, and seeking tougher sanctions on North Korea. After more than 20 years in the legal profession, Yoon was appointed to the post of prosecutor-general for 2019. He had previously been convicted on charges of corruption across all political parties.

Yoon was born in Seoul in 1960. He graduated from Seoul’s mission elementary school. Yoon said that he had ambitions of becoming a pastor. However, Yoon decided to pursue law studies on advice from his father, an economist. Yoon, who passed the bar exam on the ninth attempt of 1991, was not able to make it to the prosecutor’s office.

According to aides, Yoon enjoys socializing with people, as well as drinking, and has maintained longstanding relationships with close friends, who now hold key corporate and government positions.

Two people familiar with the matter said that he values trust and abandoned a plan to send an envoy to Washington. The plans were scrapped after media leaks. He revived it after North Korea violated a March moratorium on long range missile testing. Because of diplomatic sensitivity, they declined to identify themselves.

Yoon recalled his unusual path to the top office and said that he was not anxious. However, he has struggled to sleep well since then.

“I suppose loneliness is what being president means…You know, the former U.S. President Harry Truman kept a sign at his desk that said ‘The Buck stops here.’

He rose up in the ranks of his career as a prosecutor because of his rigid nature and strictness to the law.

However, his history of demeaning powerful people resulted also in many demotions. This was a moment that he joked allowed him to practice his cooking skills.

His defining ethos? Yoon stated that “I’m not loyal” to anyone in a Seoul hearing held in 2013. This was to emphasize his compliance with law and not the power elite.

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