Today (April 11) is Election Day in South Korea. This is exciting for two reasons. Firstly, it only happens once every four years, and secondly, I get the day off. 😀
My co-T explained that if they weren’t given the day off, nobody would vote. When I politely expressed surprise, she went on to explain that people were busy at work. What if a customer came while you were out voting? Or your boss had a question?
Whatever the reason, I was excited to have a day off.
“And we get another day off in December for the Presidential elections!” my co-T told me in excitement.
You know you don’t get many days off when you’re looking forward to a one-day holiday 9 months from now.
The lead up to the election has been both fascinating and supremely annoying.
For the past few weeks, people have been singing, dancing, bowing and waving signs at major intersections throughout the city. I never seemed to have my camera at the right time but I found this to give you an example. (Thank you towtansua for your video!)
During the day, and well into the night, people in little vans drive around the neighbourhood yelling. I have no idea what they say, I’m not sure anyone else does either. They drive pretty fast.
Quite a few of the candidates have inflatable balloon versions of themselves, or costumed characters dancing beside them while they yell from their truck.
It makes Canadian election look boring. 🙂
Today’s election is a parliamentary election. All 300 seats are up for grabs. 246 of those seats are filled by votes and the others by proportional representation. At the moment, the conservative party holds the majority of the seats. According to my co-T, this will probably change as nobody likes the current president, Lee Myung-bak. When I asked why, she replied: “He’s conservative!” with such disgust I decided not to press further.
According to the Korean Herald, there are 40 million eligible voters in Korea. Each voter casts two votes, one for a candidate and one for a party.
I did ask a few people in the staffroom how they were going to choose who to vote for. There seemed to be an enormous number of candidates. I’m not sure how many in Ulsan but I read on the BBC website that there were 172 candidates in Seoul.
“I always vote for Number 7,” a co-worker told me. When I asked why, he replied in amazement: “Carrie-teacher, lucky Number 7!!”
Another co-worker told me she would vote for the candidate whose team had the best dance.
My questions about campaign promises and party politics were met with blank stares. I wasn’t sure if they didn’t know or they didn’t know how to explain them to me in English. I hoped it was the latter. 🙂
I just checked the Korean Herald again and it claims that as of 3pm, 41.9% of eligible voters had voted.
I wonder what the voter turn out would have been if we hadn’t had the day off?