“RE100”: Do We REally Need to Know?

Yun Seok-yeol was defiant about his ignorance, but conservatives are quietly aghast.

“RE100”: Do We REally Need to Know?

Image: Yun Seok-yeol at a press conference, wearing a mask that was intended to say "nuclear-centric" but instead said "carbon-centric."  Credit: Saemaeul TV.

During the televised presidential debate, Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung 이재명 민주당 후보 asked the People Power Party presidential candidate Yun Seok-yeol 윤석열 국민의힘 후보 for his views on RE100. Yun replied he didn’t know what it was. When Lee told Yun that it was an initiative for 100% renewable energy, Yun responded that such a thing was impossible - never mind the fact that the initiative currently boasts 349 global corporations as members, including 14 Korean corporations such as SK Hynix and AmorePacific, which have already achieved 100% renewable energy use or pledged to achieve it in the near future.

Yun also struggled to answer Lee’s question on how the European Union taxonomy of green energy affects South Korea’s nuclear power - a strange lacuna for a candidate who has persistently attacked the Moon Jae-in 문재인 administration for its “nuclear zero” plan. (See previous coverage, “The Aimless Attack on Nuclear Zero.”)

Yun Seok-yeol remained unapologetic about his lack of knowledge. In a press conference held the day after the debate, Yun said: “It’s ok for a presidential candidate not to know something like RE 100. If there’s something difficult like that, it would be good manners to explain what it is first.”

Privately, long-time conservatives are aghast. A post from an anonymous Facebook page for PPP staffers went viral for its scathing assessment: “The conservative party of Korea won elections through competence. Even our adversaries would say ‘the conservatives are corrupt, but competent.’  . . . On the TV debate, the presidential candidate of Korea’s conservative party was exposed as incompetent and ignorant. He was mocked for giving an incorrect figure for housing subscription rules, and had to ask what RE100 was, when the initiative was a major issue in the energy policy that he had been advocating.  . . .  

Even more shocking is the reaction of our party members, who celebrated the ignorance by saying they didn’t know what RE100 was either.  . . . Our party and our candidate are relying solely on the desire for an administration change, and they are too incompetent and ignorant to offer any hope or vision for Korea after the administration change.”

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