Many particularly on the left will hail today’s liberal democrat victory in the presidential election in South Korea as another nail in the coffin of Trumpism or nationalism. This is a tell tale sign that they lack knowledge of politics in Korea. American’s also have a desire to always think of politics in terms of a left/right dichotomy. Firstly there was no Trumpian nationalistic candidate this time. South Korea for the better part of the 2000s has been under the conservative leadership of the saenuri party. Due to mounting scandals and Sewol debacle, the outgoing conservative president was forced to resign her post. What we are witnessing is the pendulum doing its eventual swing back to the other side. The liberal Moon Jae-In who came in 2nd place last election was the clear choice for a disillusioned populace. And unlike previous elections which saw the Jeollado region vote mainly liberal, other areas of the country particularly Seoul were areas where he made erodes. The big proposal that seems to be his platform basis is that by eliminating American interests he can set about working on reconciling the North. Unfortunately this policy has proven to be ineffective when dealing with North Korea and in actuality is probably going to prolong the regime up north rather than tame them. This speaks to the growing generation divide amongst Koreans whose younger generations did not have to experience the hardships of dictatorships in the 70s and 80s along with the Korean civil war in the 50s. On the whole most Koreans just view this for what it is: a politician switch. As my dear friend said when I discussed it with her, “바로 빅 체인지 하긴 힘들겠지 하지만 조금씩 변화가 점층적으로 어떤 변화일지는 모르겠으나.” Will it bring about the necessary changes and deal with the domestic troubles affecting the people? I have my doubts. So before those on the left gloat make sure you actually understand whats at play beyond right and left.
South Korean Presidential Election
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