• Issue
  • Jan 01, 2023

Seoul: Life in the Limelight

Installation view of AYOUNG KIM’s “Syntax and Sorcery,” at Gallery Hyundai, Seoul, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Hyundai.

In March 2022, Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol was elected by the narrowest margin in Korean history—less than a single percentage point. The so-called “election of the unfavorables” was marked by the candidates’ divisive campaign strategies and inexperience in national politics, leaving both the conservative Yoon and his liberal opponent extremely unpopular among voters. Even before taking office, Yoon stirred up controversy by announcing an expensive relocation of the presidential office—at significant taxpayer expense—and struggled to keep his approval rating above 30 percent for the first several months of his term. Civic discontent has hardly abated since then, with the country’s inflation rate hitting a 24-year high in July and a string of North Korean ballistic-missile tests, beginning in late September, ratcheting up regional geopolitical tensions.

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