It was shocking that Choi Soon-sil’s government administration monopoly and first president impeachment happened from the winter of 2016 to the spring of 2017. Korea is a democratic nation where citizens are the owners. According to this principle, Koreans come out to Gwanghwamun Street when it was found out that the president had abused her position given to her by the citizens. Koreans opened and participated in candlelight rallies, even on Christmas eve. Finally, the impeachment motion was passed and Park Geun-hye e retreated from presidential authority. It was the moment Koreans could feel the power of interest toward politics. Candlelight rallies full of Koreans’ popular sentiment were introduced as peaceful rallies in foreign broadcasts numerous times. During a short time over less than a year, Koreans underwent too many variations and heard a lot of facts. As a result of the candlelight rallies and the struggle for correct politics, the early presidential election progressed and the new president Moon Jae-in has been selected. Although election progressed during an unstable national situation, Koreans should consider it as the start of a new history. In the spring of 2017, what does an early presidential election mean to Koreans?
The First Early Presidential Election in 2017
Background of Early Presidential Election
The decisive trigger of the early presidential election implement is the first president impeachment in Korean history. Park Geun-hye was impeached from her authority as president on March 10th, 2016. After this, the election needed to be implemented within sixty days if the impeachment was accepted according to the election law. Sixty days later fell on May 9th, 2017. The Korean 19th presidential election was implemented on that day. So many Koreans come out to make success of Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. Finally, the first early presidential election has occurred.. Each party selected representatives to run for president. Competition such as selection within the “Minjoo Party of Korea” occurred as it did in several other parties. Sixty days are never long. That period might be too short to select a new government and for parties to convince Koreans about what they would do as the new government. The new government elected during the 19th election was established without the commission on presidential transition. Furthermore, Koreans have high expectations regarding the new government, so a lot of preparation was needed. As such, Koreans earnestly wanted a prepared president after completion of the early presidential election. The main point Koreans should not ignore is that the early election is not just the result of Choi Soon-sil’s administration monopoly and impeachment. It is very important that Koreans should always consider why the early presidential election progressed. It is necessary that Koreans fulfill their roles as citizens to be owners and observers of politics – not just coming in hot during a short period.
The Differences with Other Presidential Elections
The 19th Korean presidential election is allowed fast due to the urgent national situation. The original decided date was December 20th, 2017. Finally, the 19th presidential election turnout of voters was 77.2%, higher than the 75.8% recorded during the 18th (Park Geun-hye vs. Moon Jae-in), 63% (Lee Myeong-bak vs. Jeong Dong-young) in the 17th and 70.8% in the 16th (Roh Moo-hyun vs. Lee Hoi-chang). However, many Koreans and broadcasting companies predicted over 80%, higher than the fact. An early voting system was first introduced in the 19th presidential election and it recorded 26.06%, the highest record ever. However, the actual turnout of voters did not show a big difference with other presidential elections. The remarkable point is that voter turnout on the day was just 51% (compared to the total election turnout of 77.2%). Unlike the high expectation, the actual turnout of voters was little bit low. The analyzed reasons why this phenomenon happened are three. First, there is the influence of the Golden week. Some people in their twenties who enjoyed the holidays did participate in the early vote, but others gave up to vote. The second factor is due to weather. It was rainy on May 9th, the day of the presidential election. The third factor is “Moon Jae-in mainstream theory.” Especially, many people and broadcast companies already predicted that Moon Jae-in, who has progressive ideas, would be selected as president. Therefore, some conservative voters already gave up exerting their rights to vote.
There are some remarkable differences with other presidential elections in this 19th election. First, this election had the most number of candidates who ran for election. Fifteen candidates stood for president, as a result two of them excused themselves. The order of mark is decided according to number of members each party holds in the National Assembly. Number 1 was Moon Jae-in, number 2 was Hong Jun-pyo, number 3 was for Ahn Chul-su, number 4 was Ryu Seung-min, and number 5 was for Sim Sang-jung. Due to fifteen candidates having ran in the presidential election, the longest ballots ever were made and distributed. Therefore, each space to sign and seal next to the candidates’ names became smaller than in other elections. Many Koreans needed to care for signing exactly the space where they wanted to sign. A little mistake cannot be accepted according to the law of elections. Except this point, there are some other differences in this election. First, Koreans were able to vote until 8pm, not 6pm. The original law of election time was from 6 am to 6 pm. However, two hours were added for the 19th presidential election. Second, general voters were able to do online election campaigning. According to a revision of the Public Official Election Act in January 2017, general voters could do online election campaigning, such as through Internet, e-mail, and SNS on the day of election. Also, there were a lot of celebrities’ advertisements encouraging Koreans to vote. Before the 19th election, it could be shown that some people did specific poses with fingers. However, it was not a problem according to the revision of the Public Official Election Act.
About the Successful Candidate: Moon Jae-in
19th President Moon Jae-in’s Lifetime
The image Moon Jae-in wanted to imprint to Koreans during his challenging for president was that of a “Prepared President.” He always emphasized that he is strong for his second challenge. In fact, he made success on entering university, passing the bar exam, and even becoming Korean president. His life was also not smooth even though he was successful in big events in his life. He is a son of displaced parents and his family settled in Busan. His hometown is Geoje. However, his family could not settle stably due to economic difficulties such as the roof of their house having flown off due to a typhoon. Even though he underwent a lot of difficulties, he entered a prestigious middle school named Gyeong-nam and Gyeong-nam High School. Finally, he entered the Kyunghee University College of Law. He was arrested because he led demonstrations of Kyunghee University students. After being arrested, he continuously tried to lead demonstrations opposed to the Korean military regime. He was later conscripted to the army. He performed in the military Special Forces. After leaving the army, he tried again to lead demonstrations and was arrested. In the detention center where he was staying, he heard that he passed the bar exam. He wanted to be a judge, but he couldn’t be permitted due to his record of having participated in demonstrations. Finally, he decided to become a lawyer who fought for ensuring human rights. He wanted to represent laborers’ lives in law legal clinic with Roh Moo-hyun, 16th Korean president. Moon Jae-in worked together with Roh in a law legal clinic and helped laborers whose human rights were interrupted. Therefore, many Koreans recall about Roh when they think about Moon Jae-in. As the modifier “Roh’s friend” followed Moon, Roh was both shade and shadow to Moon. Moon could have become Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs due to Roh. However, he started to refuse doing politics, the reason being for his health. However, he heard that the impeachment of Roh as president was passed by the National Assembly when he was in a foreign country. As soon as he heard that, he came back to Korea and helped to derive a dismissal conclusion. His life was not smooth to become Korean president with the background of Roh. At that time when Moon returned to politics, he said “The world is like a wasteland and cannot be changed if I refuse destiny.”
Promises with Korean Citizens: Moon’s Pledges
Especially, Koreans tried to pay attention to the pledges of each candidate during the 19th presidential election. Koreans should observe if the president’s pledges are really implemented as an extension of the election. Koreans should look back on Moon’s promises. First, the Korean government has a responsibility for ensuring employment for its citizens’. He insisted that he will make 810,000 public works positions. The concrete detailed pledges are to build a collaboration system of the people and the government through installing the “Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee” and extension of assistance to business starters. Second, Korean citizens are owners of Korea. The detailed pledges are to transfer the president’s office to Gwanghwamun, clarifying the personal affairs system, abolishment of the presidential security service, and foundation of the high ranking official corruption investigation institution. Third, the creation of a fair and righteous Korea was pledged. To put this into practice, Moon promised to supplement institutional strategy through installment of a national upright institution to prevent the concentration of power toward conglomerate’s economics.
The Road Koreans Passed for a New History
During the short period of sixty days, there were many movements that tried to deliver fake news. In fact, according to a survey result from the Department of Public Peace, fake news increased about 48%. Unlike decreased money and valuables election instructors, black propaganda instructors increased. Koreans particularly feel it was a short election period because Koreans had to verify a lot of candidates whether they are appropriate to be the new Korean president. A new debate form, the “Standing Debate,” was introduced on TV programs and many Koreans who watched the debates said that they were helpful to estimate presidential candidates and how they will lead five years in the future.. However, some candidates just criticized others and some broadcast companies only transmitted stimulating comments. A representative example is the argument about the privileges of Moon Jung-yong, who is Moon Jae-in’s son. Transmitting information unilaterally and people who are swept away by fake news emerging caused big obstacles during a short period. Among them, the fact-checking program on JTBC helped Koreans recognize what is fact and what is false.
This 19th presidential election has completed with much interest from Koreans and people all over the world. The need of analyzing candidates is spreading fast among Koreans, and many of them really did it for a better future and a new government to prevent any political scandals. Although many people tried to check facts, fake news increased endlessly. Koreans should recognize what is fact before sharing information with others, especially through Internet and online systems. Mature Koreans’ acknowledgment toward politics is more needed. Most of all, tasks for improving national and global situations and drawing national power should be implemented. To achieve goals, Moon Jae-in’s communication ability should be developed more. Finally the president is the representative of a lot of citizens and he should do the talking for the citizens’ benefits. Koreans felt the danger about how authority can be abused and can cause a national emergency. Simply changing government cannot be the finish line of a national emergency. The 19th presidential election might be the start line of a new Korea.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >