SEOUL, Nov 5 (Reuters) – A former top prosecutor became the presidential candidate for South Korea’s main opposition party on Friday, seeking to ride voter anger over runaway home prices and corruption scandals involving President Moon Jae-in’s ruling party to victory in a 2022 election.

Yoon Seok-youl, who served as prosecutor-general until March after being appointed by Moon in 2019, was picked at a party convention to represent the People Power Party in the March 9, 2022 presidential election.

The conservative opposition is looking to regroup after breaking up in disarray in the wake of the 2017 impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye and capitalise on public discontent with Moon’s policy failures and scandals.

Yoon, 60, will compete against Lee Jae-myung, the nominee of Moon’s progressive ruling Democratic Party and a former governor of the country’s most populous province of Gyeonggi. Moon cannot run for re-election under the constitution.

“I feel solemn responsibility and a heavy sense of mission about changing the government, rather than joy,” Yoon said in his acceptance speech, vowing to promote conservative unity and broaden his support base.

Yoon secured 47.85% of the votes of party members and the public in a three-round primary, winning a tight race with Hong Joon-pyo, a five-term lawmaker and 2017 presidential candidate who finished with 41.50% of votes.

Yoon had the backing of party insiders despite being a political novice. He had topped polls even before launching his presidential bid in late June, thanks in part to his image as a staunch prosecutor and high-profile investigations into corruption scandals involving Park and Moon aides.

But Yoon’s popularity has sagged in recent months as he showed a lack of policy understanding and political experience, and became embroiled in scandals of his own – including murky ties to an anal acupuncturist and corruption allegations involving his family.

Hong, meanwhile, had garnered more support from the general public especially young generations, on the back of his experience as a longtime lawmaker, provincial governor and former party chairman. Hong, also a former prosecutor, lost to Moon in the last presidential election in 2017.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Michael Perry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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