Asia

36-year-old elected youngest leader of South Korea's main opposition party in sign of generational shift

SEOUL – Harvard graduate Lee Jun-seok, 36, has been elected the youngest-ever leader of South Korea’s main opposition People’s Power Party, in what is viewed as a major generational shift in politics as young people become more vocal and demand more changes in the country.

Mr Lee was elected on Friday (June 11) during the conservative party’s national convention, beating four political veterans including four-term lawmaker Na Kyung-won, 57, and five-term lawmaker Joo Ho-young, 61.

Mr Lee won 43.8 per cent of the votes, while Ms Na came in second with 37.1 per cent.

Mr Lee has been dominating headlines for weeks after entering the race for party leadership.

Handpicked by former impeached president Park Geun-hye to join politics a decade ago, Mr Lee failed three times to win in parliamentary elections but has since become a political star.

A recent poll ranked him fourth as the most suitable next leader for the country, after Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl and former Democratic Party leader Lee Nak-yon.

Mr Lee Jun-seok will not be able to run in next year’s presidential race as the constitution stipulates that a presidential candidate must be at least 40 years old.

But there have been calls for it to be amended to allow for younger candidates.

The minor opposition Justice Party even called the minimum age a “discriminatory and unfair rule”.

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