A presidential contender in South Korea appeared with a Chinese character drawn on his palm during a live television debate, sparking a controversy over promoting ritualistic beliefs to win the race.
Yoon Seok-youl, the presidential candidate from the primary opposition party People Power Party, waved his hand while talking when viewers spotted the character wang, meaning “king” on his left palm, suggesting that he is relying on advice from a soothsayer, according to a local report.
Similar spotting of the letter on his hand was made in previous debates, according to the report.
The mysterious character on the opposition leader’s hand triggered sharp criticism from his opponents and rivals who accused him of promoting regressive shaman practices by writing a talisman on his hand.
Mr Seok-youl’s rival Hong Joon-pyo criticised the frontrunner for including a shaman in the presidential race. “I was skeptical of the news I had heard that Yoon has a shaman helping him become president, but now that it’s been revealed that he wrote a talisman on the palm of his hand, all I can think is that this is just absurd,” Mr Joon-pyo said.
It was also slammed by the ruling Democratic Party of Korea for dubbing a public servant like the president as a king.
The presidential contender had denied the allegations of hidden ritualistic meaning behind the tattoo on his hand and said that it was scribbled by some supporters on his hand and could not be erased on time.
“What shamanistic effect could a character written on his hand in marker have? In future debates, we will not erase any encouraging messages from supporters if they continue to write them on his palm,” the leader’s spokesperson said.
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