"Immigration to Canada" was trending on South Korean Twitter on Thursday as a conservative candidate likened to Donald Trump was elected the country's new president.
In one of the closest presidential elections in recent history, Yoon Suk-yeol, 61, a former top prosecutor with no prior political experience, beat liberal ruling party candidate Lee Jae-myung, 57.
Yoon's win led some South Koreans to consider their immigration options — at least according to Twitter, where the term "immigration to Canada" was trending on Thursday. Twitter analytics site GetDayTrends reported close to 16,000 tweets about the topic in the early hours of the day.
The tweets were reminiscent of the 2016 US presidential elections when Canada's immigration website crashed as Trump swept key states.
A user with the handle @Im_not_pencil tweeted in Korean: "I have to study English and save money to immigrate to Canada. I can't stay in this stupid place anymore."
Another user, @Allow_opinion, wrote: "Let's all do our best, let's immigrate, let's meet in Canada or anywhere else. In our protest, let's meet."
User @1013653778_ shared tips on having a better chance at immigrating to Canada. "Must have — steady English learning — it is good to have IELTS 5.5 or higher," they wrote, referring to the standardized IELTS (International English Language Testing System) English test.
Critics have called Yoon "the South Korean Trump." A recent Korea Herald editorial noted that both "have made remarks that would be offensive to other countries, praised heavily controversial political figures, gone after foreigners and shown a poor understanding of feminism."
Yoon's controversial campaign pledges included a promise to abolish the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, claiming that women do not suffer systemic gender discrimination, per AFP. He is an "avowed anti-feminist," the news agency said.
South Korea is at the bottom of The Economist's glass-ceiling index that measures the role and influence of women in the workforce, ranking the lowest among 29 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member nations.
During his campaign trail, he also made "a string of gaffes," AFP reported, "from praising one of the country's former dictators, to belittling manual labor and Africans."
Yoon has said he would launch pre-emptive strikes on North Korea if necessary, comments which critics said were overly provocative, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP). Describing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "rude boy," Yoon said he would make Kim "snap out of it" upon winning the election, per AFP.
Tapping into growing anti-China sentiment in his home country, he has also pledged closer relations with the US, SCMP said.
Biden called Yoon to congratulate the president-elect on Thursday.
"The alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea, our economies, and our people is ironclad," said a White House spokesperson.