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Let them eat trash: Yoon slammed for ‘substandard food’ remark

Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
Yoon Seok-youl (Yonhap)
Former prosecutor general and presidential frontrunner Yoon Seok-youl is under fire for saying during a media interview last month that poor people should be allowed to eat foods that don’t meet legal standards, as long as they don’t kill you.

Yoon made the remarks as he spoke about economist Milton Friedman’s book “Free to Choose: A Personal Statement,” in a video clip of the interview released on YouTube.

“Poor people should be allowed to choose food below (certain quality standards) to eat at lower prices … unless it makes you sick and die,” he said in the video as he disapproved of excessive regulation.

Yoon said he summarized the book to his bosses at the prosecution to make a point to his bosses that certain crackdowns were ineffective and better off not being carried out.

Ruling Democratic Party politicians blasted him.

Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, who runs second in presidential preference polls, wrote on Facebook on Monday that he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Yoon make these remarks as he quoted Friedman.

“A poisonous drug is not a drug,” Lee wrote, saying it was “unbelievable” that one can say poor people should be allowed to choose something below legal standards.

“The state’s basic responsibility is to protect the people’s lives and safety. That’s why a state must ensure stable provision of healthy and safe food to everyone.”

Lee asked whether Yoon’s idea of a nation’s role is to deregulate so that poor people can choose to eat substandard food.

“Is discriminatory application of the citizens’ basic rights for health, sanitation, safety and life the fairness that candidate Yoon stresses?” the governor wrote.

“Is he seeking to make a country where poor people work 120 hours a week and eat substandard food?”

DP leader Song Young-gil said during the party’s supreme council meeting on Monday that even former president Park Geun-hye cracked down heavily on junk food. He added that it seems like Yoon, as someone who got Park jailed, had a different view of junk food.

Kang Byung-won, a member of the DP’s supreme council, said he was “startled at the vulgarity of perceiving food safety standards as unnecessary regulation and an obstacle that limits choice.”

Kang added, “Like how the people no longer choose junk food, they won’t pick a junk candidate.”

Back Hye-ryun, another member of the DP’s supreme council, said Yoon’s “poorness in policy” was continuing to come into view.

“It has been revealed that a person trapped in court judgments and indictments all his life can’t get political intelligence overnight,” she said.

Rep. Woo Won-shik, campaign chief of the Lee Jae-myung camp, said, “He‘s drinking in the daytime everyday; hope he wasn’t drunk during the interview.”

Yoon’s ratings in presidential preference polls rose over the weekend after he joined the main opposition People Power Party on Friday.

In a poll of 1,016 people aged 18 or above nationwide conducted on Saturday by PNR Research, 35.3 percent picked Yoon, followed by Lee Jae-myung (23.2 percent) and ex-DP leader Lee Nak-yon (16 percent).

Then came former chief state auditor Choe Jae-hyeong (6.9 percent); ex-justice minister Choo Mi-ae (3.2 percent), Rep. Hong Joon-pyo of the PPP (2.8 percent); former prime minister Chung Sye-kyun (2.6 percent); ex-legislator of the PPP Yoo Seung-min (2.4 percent); and Rep. Sim Sang-jeung (2.1 percent).

By Kim So-hyun (