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Five things about Korea’s president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol

Whether you like it or not, South Korea voted for Yoon Suk-yeol to lead the country for the next five years as the president.

Here are some fun facts about him, from the book that changed his perspective on the economy to his favorite home-made comfort foods. 
Yoon Suk-yeol watches the match between the Doosan Bears and KT Wiz at he Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul in November last year. (Yonhap)
Yoon Suk-yeol watches the match between the Doosan Bears and KT Wiz at he Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul in November last year. (Yonhap)
1. Avid baseball fan

Proclaiming himself as an avid fan of baseball, President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol used to frequently visit baseball stadiums with colleagues when he worked as a local prosecutor in Daejeon, Daegu and Gwangju.

“Ever since I was an elementary student, I was a baseball fanatic to the point where I put a baseball glove on a chair and sat down on it while attending classes,” he said while watching a baseball game at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul in November last year.

His favorite club is the Doosan Bears, a South Korean professional baseball team and a member of the KBO League based in Seoul.


2. Free to Choose

Yoon picked Milton Friedman‘s “Free to Choose” as the book that had “the greatest influence on (his) formation of values” during a confirmation hearing after being selected as a prosecutor-general nominee in 2019.

The book was given by his economics professor father when Yoon entered university in 1979. He has cherished it until now.

Friedman, a Nobel laureate and the most prominent alumnus of the Chicago School, asserted that the free market works best for all members of society in the book. 
A picture of young Yoon Suk-yeol posted by him on his Instagram.
A picture of young Yoon Suk-yeol posted by him on his Instagram.
3. Eight failures

Yoon, who was a lifelong prosecutor before entering politics last March, passed the National Judicial Examination -- which was abolished in 2017 -- on his ninth attempt in 1991 at the age of 30.

He got through the first round of the bar exam, comprised of multiple choice questions, when he was a senior law student at Seoul National University. It took him nine years to pass the second part. This means he spent almost the entirety of his 20s preparing for the infamous bar exam.

Often compared with his rival Lee Jae-myung, who passed the bar on his second try, Yoon’s repeated failures invited mockery from opponents. But he said he learned how to be patient through this period of his life.

4. Seasoned chef at home

Yoon is known to be a gourmand who has interest in ingredients, recipes and the origins of food.

On his party’s YouTube channel, he showed off his cooking skills with kimchi fried rice, jajangmyeon pasta and beef tofu pot in a video released in December.

According to his wife Kim Kun-hee, Yoon has been in charge of cooking since their marriage in 2012. Before getting married, he used to invite junior prosecutors over to treat them to home-cooked meals.

He picked doenjang jjigae, soybean paste stew, and kimchi jjigae, kimchi stew, as his favorite dishes. 
Yoon Suk-yeol performs an uppercut gesture wearing gloves presented by a boxer at a campaign event in Seoul on March 1. (Yonhap)
Yoon Suk-yeol performs an uppercut gesture wearing gloves presented by a boxer at a campaign event in Seoul on March 1. (Yonhap)
5. Uppercut

Uppercut, a swinging blow in boxing, has become Yoon’s signature gesture. His gesture went viral online and generated a flood of reaction memes.

Some political commentators said his uppercut gesture was designed to break away from an authoritative image and express his confidence during election campaigns. Others saw it as a gesture meant to throw a punch to the incumbent administration and the ruling party.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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