The list of election issues set to define South Korea’s presidential race next year is long. The runaway housing prices, the pandemic, North Korea and gender inequality are a start. But an unlikely addition has also emerged in recent weeks: China.

South Korea’s decision ​​to let the U.S. military deploy a powerful anti-missile radar system on its soil​ in 2017 has been the subject of frequent criticism from China. And last month, a presidential hopeful, Yoon Seok-youl, told the country to stop complaining, unless it wanted to remove its own ​radar systems near the Korean Peninsula.

Political elites here are usually careful not to antagonize China, the country’s largest trading partner. But Yoon’s blunt rhetoric reflected a new phenomenon: a growing antipathy toward Beijing among South Koreans, particularly young voters whom conservative politicians are eager to win over.