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South Korea’s prime minister and top presidential officials resign en masse

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South Korea’s prime minister and senior presidential officials have offered to resign en masse following Wednesday’s parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and all senior presidential advisers to conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol submitted their resignations, according to Yoon’s office, after Wednesday’s elections dealt a huge blow to Yeol’s party. The elections secured the liberal opposition forces’ control of parliament until after Yoon completes his single five-year term in 2027. 

The results will likely set back Yoon’s domestic agenda and weaken his grip on the party. He will also have to face the opposition’s intensifying political offensive during his remaining three years, experts say.

Yoon’s office did not immediately say whether Yoon would accept their resignations.

HERE’S WHAT SOUTH KOREANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT AS THEY VOTE FOR PARLIAMENT THIS WEEK

Han Duck-soo

South Korea’s Prime Minster Han Duck-soo speaks during a cabinet meeting at the government complex in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 11, 2024.  (Hwang Kwang-mo/Yonhap via AP)

With most of the votes counted, the main opposition Democratic Party and its satellite party appeared to have won a combined 175 seats in the 300-member National Assembly, according to South Korean media tallies.

Yoon’s ruling People Power Party was projected to have obtained 108 seats.

The final official results were expected later Thursday.

Han Dong-hoon

South Korea’s ruling People Power Party’s leader Han Dong-hoon gestures during his press conference at the party’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, April 11, 2024.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

The final voter turnout for South Korea’s 44 million eligible voters was the highest for a parliamentary election since 1992, according to the National Election Commission.

HOW SOUTH KOREA’S ELECTION OF YOON SUK YEOL MAY AFFECT RELATIONSHIP WITH US

In a news conference, ruling People Power Party leader Han Dong-hoon announced he was stepping down to take responsibility for the election defeat.

“I apologize to the people on behalf of our party, which wasn’t good enough to win the people’s choices,” he said.

People Power Party's leader

South Korea’s ruling People Power Party’s leader Han Dong-hoon arrives to hold his press conference at the party’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, April 11, 2024.  (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Yoon, a former top prosecutor who took office in 2022, will stay in power and his major foreign policies will likely be unchanged. 

Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung, who lost the 2022 presidential election to Yoon, praised Wednesday’s results. 

“The results of the parliamentary elections are not the victory by the Democratic Party, but the great victory by our people,” Lee said Thursday. “Now, the elections are over. Both the ruling and opposition political parties must pull together all their strength to resolve economic and public livelihood problems.”

Lee Jae-myung

South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung speaks during the disbandment ceremony of the party’s election committee for the parliamentary election at the party’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 11, 2024.  (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

In South Korea, executive power is mostly wielded by the president, but the prime minister is the country’s No. 2 official and would take power if the president becomes incapacitated.

The incoming parliament is to begin meeting on May 30 for a four-year term. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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