Photo: Yun Seok-yeol's left hand showing the character for "king". Credit: MBN.
The gaffe-prone conservative presidential frontrunner Yun Seok-yeol 윤석열 drew yet another round of unwanted attention when in the latest TV debate held on October 1, viewers noticed that Yun had the Chinese character for “king” 王 written on his palm whenever he raised his left hand. Yun apparently had the letter on his palm repeatedly, as the footage from TV debates held on September 26 and September 28 also showed the same Chinese character on Yun’s hand.
Yun claimed an avid supporter living in his apartment complex wrote the letter for him as he was leaving home in the morning. Given how the letter stayed clear and legible in the evening TV debate, this explanation raised questions whether Yun had been washing his hands regularly during the pandemic. Yun’s campaign spokesman said Yun “washes his fingers.”
Although Yun Seok-yeol is nominally a Catholic, he has had linkages to shamanism, especially through his wife. A face-reader 관상가 introduced Yun to his wife Kim Geon-hee 김건희, who wrote her Ph.D. thesis on fortune telling. Connection to folk superstition is a sore topic for South Korea’s conservatives, as the former president Park Geun-hye 박근혜 was impeached after having delegated her authority to Choi Soon-sil 최순실, the daughter of a shaman who claimed to speak with her dead mother.
Yun’s conservative rival Yu Seung-min 유승민 lambasted: “How is this different from Choi Soon-sil? [Yun] must tell us who advised him to write the letter ‘king’ on his hand.” Another rival Hong Jun-pyo 홍준표 took aim at both Yun and his wife: “This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone earning a doctorate with fortune-telling, and also the first time I’ve seen anyone in the presidential primaries with a shaman.”