We had parliamentary elections today. Because I've been overseas most of the time since I became eligible to vote at 20 or something, I hadn't got a chance to vote, but I finally did my first voting today. Honestely, I wasn't even sure if I should vote, since I had no idea who were running and what their pledges were. But my parents almost dragged me to the polling place, and I voted for a candidate who seemed to be a liberal. Oh well, at least I exercised my right to vote, unlike nearly half the eligible voters who didn't even bother - the media said turnout was only about 50%, a record low.
Street campaigning during elections - be it parlimentary or presidential - is quite a scene. Candidates make speeches on the back of trucks or in street corners with their entourage, often including celebrities, standing behind them. Their supporters, clad in colors symbolizing their parties, do choreographed dancing, with their supporting songs in full blast.
But often, I feel like the candidates' messages get buried. I tried to find out what the candidate I voted for today had been pledging, but she didn't seem to go beyond saying "I'll make this neighborhood a better place."
If not, they talk about such tired topics as the economy and education, especially English.
I think the Korean economy has been doing pretty well since the Asian financial crisis, and you can actually see a lot of improvement here, but the way politicians talk about the economy hasn't changed much. They always say Korea's still a poor country, and Koreans should try harder to make Korea an advanced country, a mentality that almost seems like an inferiority complex.
Similiary, Koreans have a complex about their English, and the amount of efforts and money they put into English education is ridiculous. The new president even considered banning schools from teaching in Korean, which could've been a cultural suicide. He later backed out, only because of criticism that the idea isn't realistic, rather than concerns about preserving Korean culture.
At the end of the day, I'm afraid this country is only trying to be a copycat of other countries. It wants to be like the U.S., Japan, Singapore, while no one is raising fundamental questions about what good it will do for the people. And people are growing tired of hearing the same bullshit over and over again, with nothing being done for them, as the low turnout today shows.