Yoon Seok-youl (R), who was elected as the presidential candidate of the main opposition People Power Party at an intra-party primary on Nov. 5, 2021, poses with Lee Cheol-hee, chief presidential secretary for political affairs, after receiving a congratulatory pot of orchids from President Moon Jae-in at the party's headquarters in Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Monday sent a pot of orchids to the main opposition People Power Party's presidential candidate, Yoon Seok-youl, to congratulate him on his nomination and pledged to remain politically neutral during the presidential race, a lawmaker said.
Lee Cheol-hee, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, paid a visit to Yoon to deliver the orchids with a message from Moon that he hopes Yoon will stay healthy during the election campaign.
In response, Yoon sent his greetings to Moon and first lady Kim Jung-sook.
In a closed-door meeting, Yoon asked Moon to maintain "strict neutrality" during the presidential election, according to Rep. Lee Yang-soo, Yoon's chief spokesperson.
Lee, the senior presidential secretary, also conveyed Moon's message that he will strictly remain politically neutral, the chief spokesperson told reporters.
According to the spokesperson, Yoon and the senior presidential secretary did not discuss other politically sensitive issues, including the likelihood of an independent counsel investigation into a massive corruption scandal implicating a former aide of Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Party (DP).
Late last month, Moon held a meeting with the DP's Lee, in a move that could help solidify Lee's standing within the party after a bitter primary.
The presidential office has said it will consider holding a meeting between Moon and other presidential candidates if they ask Moon to do so.
Political analysts said, however, a meeting between Moon and Yoon is unlikely because such a meeting is less helpful for Yoon as he gained popularity from conservatives by launching probes that jolted Moon's administration.
In July 2019, Yoon was appointed by Moon as prosecutor general, but their relationship took a downturn when the prosecution under Yoon launched a corruption investigation into Cho Kuk, one of Moon's closest aides and his pick for justice minister.
Cho resigned shortly after his appointment, dealing a serious blow to the standing of the Moon administration. By the same token, Yoon emerged as a darling of the conservative bloc.
In a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency, Yoon said he has "no reason" to ask Moon to hold a meeting. (Yonhap)