He's Running for President in S. Korea. Bald People Love Him

Lee Jae-myung is pushing government to pay for hair loss treatments
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 7, 2022 1:00 PM CST
He's Running for President in S. Korea. Bald People Love Him
Lee Jae-myung, a candidate of the ruling Democratic Party for next March's presidential election, speaks during a press conference at a Kia Motors plant in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, on Tuesday.   (Chung Sung-Jun/Pool Photo via AP)

South Korean presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung isn't bald. But he is enjoying the support of many bald voters over his push for government payments for hair loss treatments. Since his proposal was disclosed earlier this week, hair loss has emerged as a hot-button topic ahead of March's presidential vote in South Korea, where previous elections have focused on North Korea's nuclear program, relations with the US, scandals, and economic problems, per the AP. Online communities for bald people are flooded with messages supporting his proposal. There's also strong criticism that it's just a populism-driven campaign pledge by Lee, the governing party candidate, to win votes.

Messages on social media include, "Jae-myung bro. I love you. I'll implant you in the Blue House" and "Your Excellency, Mr. President! You're giving new hope to bald people for the first time in Korea." Lee told reporters Wednesday that he thinks hair regrowth treatments should be covered by the national health insurance program. "Please, let us know what has been inconvenient for you over hair loss treatments and what must be reflected in policies," Lee wrote on Facebook. "I'll present a perfect policy on hair loss treatment." Lee, an outspoken liberal, is leading public opinion surveys. Some critics, however, have called him a dangerous populist.

"[Lee's idea] may appear to be a necessary step for many people worrying about their hair loss, but it's nothing but serious populism, given that it would worsen the financial stability of the state insurance program," the conservative Munhwa Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial Thursday. Currently, hair loss related to aging and hereditary factors isn't covered by the government-run insurance program. Hair loss treatments are only supported if the loss is caused by certain diseases. Reports say 1 in 5 South Koreans suffers from hair loss.

(More South Korea stories.)

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