President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a press conference at the National Assembly Library in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2022. Yoon Suk-yeol of the main conservative opposition People Power Party won a narrow victory in the South Korean presidential election amid people's aspiration for transfer of power. (Photo by James Lee/Xinhua)
SEOUL, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea's main conservative opposition People Power Party, who snatched a narrow victory in the election held on Wednesday to pick the Asian country's 20th president, is being faced with both hopes and challenges.
Yoon gained 48.56 percent of support, beating his archrival Lee Jae-myung of the ruling Democratic Party who won 47.83 percent, according to the National Election Commission on Thursday.
The difference of the support rates, garnered by the two candidates, set a record low of 0.73 percentage points, making it the most urgent task for the president-elect to unite the divided voters after the presidential race ended as scheduled.
Yoon said that his election reflected the voice of reform to restore fairness and common sense, as well as an ardent appeal for a new political ecology to get people united, vowing that he will only trust and follow the will of the South Korean people.
Media reports said that in a phone conversation, incumbent President Moon Jae-in has told Yoon that it would be significant to have people united, bridge the divisions and avoid conflicts as were shown in the election campaign.
Yoon's election echoed the aspiration of conservative voters for a transfer of the country's political power. However, he is faced with a political challenge as the ruling party holds a majority in the National Assembly or the parliament.
The Democratic Party has 172 seats in the 300-member unicameral parliament, and the People Power Party holds 110 seats, apparently needing cooperation from the former to legislate campaign pledges or form a new cabinet.
Yoon, a political novice, who resigned from the office of prosecutor general in March 2021 about three months before declaring his presidential candidacy, said on campaign trail that he will work for the development of his country through rational cooperation with wise politicians from the Democratic Party.
On the economic front, Yoon is expected to address the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially on small businesses associated with local traditional markets, including the negative effect of limited business hour and other prolonged anti-virus measures.
Yoon said he will provide support for the self-employed people and micro-business owners who are at the end of their rope, vowing to reform the social system to enable pre-emptive responses to any pandemic.
To create new jobs and expand the middle-income bracket, the president-elect has pledged to take a policy of market liberalism as he is opposed to the government's economic intervention, sending a positive signal to big corporations.
Yoon said he will deal with the skyrocketing housing prices by deregulating the real estate market, lowering property ownership taxes, and supplying 2.5 million houses nationwide during the single five-year term of South Korean presidency.
In South Korea, a private sector-driven housing development is believed to be able to cause the side effect of overinvestment in the real estate sector amid record-breaking household debts and expected interest rate hikes.
The country's central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point to 1.25 percent in January, after raising the rate by 25 basis points in both August and November last year.
The Bank of Korea (BOK) is widely forecast to raise rates further in April or May over a growing inflationary pressure. The headline inflation had hovered above 3 percent for five months through February.
Regarding relations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Yoon has said that his government will always leave a door open for dialogue between the two sides on the Korean Peninsula.
Yoon has also said he will rebuild the South Korea-U.S. alliance, noting that he will develop the South Korea-China relations of mutual respect and the future-oriented South Korea-Japan relations.
The president-elect has had a phone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden, who congratulated Yoon on his victory in the election. ■