Saturday, June 5, 2010

Election Day

This past Wednesday (June 2nd) was Election Day in Korea. Korean President Lee Myung-Bak wasn't up for re-election--rather, these elections were effectively a mid-term report card for his and the Grand National Party's current control over the government here.

Much like in the U.S., there are two major political parties in Korea--the conservative Grand National Party, and the more liberal Democratic Party.

Policy-wise, under the Lee Myung-Bal administration South Korea's stance towards North Korea has turned from the Democratic-backed "Sunshine Policy" of the '90's (which focused on engaging the North diplomatically and criticizing its politics minimally) to much more forcibly cutting off most humanitarian aid and openly refusing to engage North Korea while it remains one of the most oppressive nations in the world. Lee Mung-bak is also socially conservative, and has begun enforcing Korea's very strict abortion laws, among other things.

Politically, I'm feeling a lot of U.S.A. circa 2008 deja vu here--most Koreans I talk to are very unhappy with the current political situation in Korea, and now that North Korea/South Korean tensions are worse than ever, people are being much more critical: Lee and the GNP only won six out of 16 races for metropolitan mayor and provincial governor on Wednesday. In my mind, Lee Myung-Bak = George W. Bush mid war in Iraq, with lots of folk gettin' all nostalgic for the fat 'ole liberal Clinton days (or rather, the Kim Dae-Jung days).

More personally, however, I'm a little bit sad that the elections are over, just because the campaigning stuff that led up to them was absolutely ridiculous/hilarious. Witness these truck people campaigning in Seoul:


And here's a picture of a bunch of local Uijeongbu candidates:

I actually got to meet the guy on the far left (Jong Young-Su): he looked a lot older and uglier in person.
And I was taller than him. Korea hearts Photoshopped headshots, that's for sure

Fellow Uijeongbu-dweller Paul has a lot more insightful things to say about local elections here.

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