Elections in South Korea
also Daylight Savings Time, coverage of coverage of the war in Ukraine, and naming things
News from South Korea this week, as conservative Yoon Suk-yeol (윤석열) won the country’s presidential election.
What does this mean for South Korea? What “conservative” positions does he actually have? How will this impact the balance-of-power in East Asia?
The key insight: “gender-agnostic conscription” is not “anti-feminist”, it is in fact “pro-feminist”.
but first, the week’s news.
End of an Era: The Designated Hitter rule has changed — it will now be used in all Major League Baseball games. The Washington Post has an excellent sports section, and you can read their coverage online. the Newslettr would be outraged by this change, but had already more-or-less stopped watching Major League Baseball.
Boots on the Ground: When @antoniogm goes into a war zone … well, Mr. García1 knows what he is doing. If you do it, you are a fool with a death wish.
Dueling Demagogues: For some reason, Elon Musk decided that challenging Vladimir Putin to a duel was a good idea. the Newslettr has considered the idea of a duel to settle some of the thornier peace terms with a duel, and of course it would have to be Mr. Zelenskyy to make the challenge. The duel would also have to be chess. And, to ensure the KGB doesn’t cheat, there would have to be multiple seconds2 in the adjoining rooms — both human and computer3.
In that context, Elon Musk’s tweet from March 15th becomes a classic joke. A grandfather plays his grandson in chess and wins handily. To give the child a handicap, the grandfather agrees to play the re-match using only his left hand, and the grandson wins the second match.
Доверяй, но проверяй: Or, in English, “trust but verify”. ESPN did not follow that rule, breathlessly reporting “Tom Brady says he's returning as Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB next season” based on a Tweet from Tom Brady’s Twitter account, without first attempting to contact his agent for confirmation. It turns out that Brady’s Twitter was not hacked, and he is indeed un-retiring. the Newslettr still refuses to trust ESPN for “hot news”.
No News From London: We got the news from the BBC on the Ides of March. The headlines:
REFUGEES EVACUATE MARIUPOL.
DRAMA ON THE RUSSIAN AIRWAVES.
BRITAIN STILL FOOTDRAGGING ON REFUGEES.
COVID IS NO LONGER IN THE HEADLINES.
Our extended coverage contained several details not suitable for public publication, so we are not publishing it.
Two Tablets: the Newslettr is aware of two similar products: the reMarkable tablet, and the Supernote tablet. the Newslettr would be interested in a comparative review of the two products. On the other hand, we’re not so interested that we would buy both tablets and review them in-house.
Queen of the Hours: The so-called4 Daylight Savings Time took effect here in the Americas over the past week. They call it “Summer Time” in UK English. the Newslettr uses GMT5 for its scheduling, which only has the leap-second issue.
There is talk of Congress passing a bill to change Daylight Savings Time (again). On the one hand, Marco Rubio is a lead sponsor, so we assume6 the bill will fail. On the other hand, it passed the Senate by unanimous consent (ref. Politico.com), so maybe it will happen this time.
For the determination of DAWN, HIGH_NOON, and DUSK, it really doesn’t matter what bureaucrats in Washington say.
Fifty Timezones: A question from a contributor:
What if every state had a different time zone?
The comments are open to discussion on this topic. Time zones were invented in the age of railroads and before computers. Today, cell phones can automatically adjust for time zones. And there’s no particular reason that the work-day needs to start in Kansas at the same time as it does in Minnesota.
Hark, a Signal: a re-tweet from an operator7:
Tweet of the Week: Nguyễn Tân Thái Hưng on Vietnamese8 names.
Meet Mister Yoon
(editor’s note: South Korean names are surname-first, like Chinese names)
We start with a hit-piece in the Washington Post. The conclusion is that Yoon’s election has “led to widespread misunderstanding of feminism”, and the author of that piece is certainly contributing to that misunderstanding. Feminism is a word that can mean many things, from “the radical notion that women are people” to “sworn fealty to the excesses of Carthage”. Clearly Yoon is opposed to one of those things.
The BBC offers a more sober take. On “domestic policy”:
Mr Yoon had also made abolishing the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family a central pledge of his campaign.
The ministry largely provides family-based services, education, and social welfare for children and spends around 0.2% of the nation's annual budget - less than 3% of which goes towards the promotion of equality for women.
This raises the question of “what does the other 97% of the ministry do”. the Newslettr has no answers, or at least no answers suitable for polite discussion. Regarding foreign policy:
He has said he will aim to develop technology to carry out a pre-emptive strike on North Korea if Pyongyang looks to attack Seoul and he supports sanctions on Kim Jong-un's regime which will bring him more in line with the policies of South Korea's main ally, the United States.
He wants to be tougher on China and proposed that South Korea should co-operate more fully with the Quad security alliance between the US, Australia, India and Japan, an informal grouping created to counter Beijing's growing influence in the region. But he stopped short of saying Seoul should join the alliance.
His views on foreign policy are a decisive shift from his predecessor who favoured engagement with Pyongyang and largely avoided taking a stance that would inflame China, the country's largest trading partner.
the Newslettr’s position is that Korean Unification would be a bad thing, and the two countries should seek a permanent peace treaty9 on those terms.
From Doha, al-Jazeera is not concerned about “anti-feminism”, but offers a brief summary of Yoon’s foreign policy:
Yoon has said he would deal with North Korean provocations sternly and seek to boost trilateral security cooperation with Washington and Tokyo. He also said he would make an enhanced alliance with the United States the centre of his foreign policy while taking a more assertive stance on China.
From Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post offers a take that is only partially dictated by the government in Beijing: Yoon is inexperienced, and likely to support United States interests over those of the PRC.
From Singapore, the Straits Times comments more on the “anti-feminism” concerns. The key insight from the piece is that there is 18 months of mandatory military service for South Korean men. The solution is obvious10: establish conscription for persons of any gender, much like the Israeli Defense Forces11 have.
And finally, from Seoul, the Korea Herald reports on pledges to build 2.5 million new homes, to increase financial support for pregnant women and young children, and additional THAAD anti-missile batteries.
The Straight Dope
To best answer the question “what does Yoon Suk-yeol say he stands for”, you must go to the source: his campaign website. That can be found at the URL https://yoonlove.com/. Unfortunately, much of the content is in Korean and in a format not easily machine-translated.
A different website is https://www.wikiyoon.com/ , which is more suitable to machine translation. It is at least somewhat affiliated12 with the official campaign, but I’m not confident Yoon currently endorses any specific statement on that website. Three interesting planks13 (translations via Google Translate):
Currently, 41% of non-disabled people play computer games and search the Internet for leisure activities on weekdays and 32% on weekends, while 18% and 15% of people with disabilities account for the same, respectively. Establishing 'Game Accessibility Promotion Committee' to create an environment where young people with disabilities can enjoy games just like non-disabled people.
Creating a pleasant and safe daycare center/kindergarten environment
• 'Three meals a day eco-friendly free meals' support for infants and toddlers
◦ Additional support for all types of day care and kindergarten
• Reducing the teacher-to-child ratio in the nursery class
◦ Additional placement of nursery teachers in the infant class
◦ Improving the level of childcare service by reducing the ratio of teachers to children aged 0-2
Introduction of standard fee-for-service system for companion animals and reduction of treatment costs
◦ Standardization of treatment items for diseases that companion animals frequently suffer and burdensome, advance disclosure of medical expenses, introduction of standard fee system, etc.
There are also a bunch of platitudes, and a few policies the Newslettr feels are harmful.
And finally, Namu Wiki has a one-pager summarizing Yoon’s policy positions. The content is very similar to what Wiki Yoon says. This is as expected — they are both transcribing the same policies.
The “conservative” Yoon is associated with red, and the “liberal” Lee is associated with blue.
The first question that must be asked is “what is that region in the southwest of South Korea named”? It is known as Honam, and contains the provinces of North Jeolla, South Jeolla, and the province-level city of Gwangju. According to The Diplomat from 2015, the political situation is similar14 to that of Scotland. The Korea Herald has more.
This is not a new phenomenon, the Washington Post described the political situation in 1987 as “virulent regional prejudice”.
Beyond that: the 2017 election had multiple major candidates, with Moon Jae-in winning with a plurality of 41% of the vote. It is difficult to definitively determine the “swing” between a multi-candidate race and a two-candidate race. The 2012 election had only two candidates, and the degree of regional polarization has decreased from then. The “conservative” vote in Gwangju was up from 7.76% to 12.7%, and the conservative vote in Daegu was down from 80.1% to 75.1%. The city of Seoul swung right, while the suburbs swung left.
With Spanish-language double-surnames, generally the first surname is used with an honorific. We haven’t inquired with @antoniogm directly; he has other things to worry about.
Putin’s seconds would be Sergey Karjakin and some KGB agents. Zelenskyy would have a lot of options for seconds.
The term-of-art here is “centaur chess” — referring to chess where the use of computer engines is allowed. The KGB certainly has an undetectable way to relay moves to Mr. Putin or a second if need be; you might as well just put the computer engines in the room.
well, actually, the timezone change doesn’t impact the amount of daylight, it is just slightly more convenient for some people who have fixed schedules
Yes, the Newslettr knows the differences between GMT, UTC, and TAI. Do you know the differences?
In this context, “we assume” means “I don’t want to think about it”. Knowing Mr. Rubio’s track record of incompetence I assume it is unlikely anything will happen. I would rather be wrong than think about it further.
the six symmetric non-trivial binary operators are AND, OR, NAND, NOR, XOR, XNOR.
the Newsletter is unable to transcribe Vietnamese diacritics. However, we can certainly copy those provided to us.
there is a sticky wicket here: presumably Mr. Yoon will support “any woman who gives birth to two children before the age of 23 is exempt from further national service”. The argument over that point could kill the entire idea.
the Newslettr is aware of certain other attributes of the IDF that South Korea should not copy. That doesn’t mean gender-agnostic conscription is a bad idea.
we found the link on the Naver onebox. Naver is the top search engine in South Korea. A onebox is an editorially-backed result for a specific search query.
the term for an individual political position that is part of a platform is a “plank”
the best term is the back-translation “same same but different”, which sounds idiomatic in Asian languages