The Korean Right Got Crushed Last Month – Why?


The following post is the original English language version of a story I wrote for Newsweek Japan (relevant issue to the left) a few weeks ago on the South Korean.

My Predictions and Expectations for the Upcoming South Korean Parliamentary Elections: The Left will get Hammered


This is a re-post of something I wrote a few days ago for the Lowy Institute. I thought it would be helpful to put some predictions out there, with a logic for why I made them.

‘Silly Season’ in South Korea

It’s “Silly Season” in South Korea.

In my former life, as a news reporter, I got firsthand exposure to Smalltown America’s version of “Silly Season,” the time when politicians and wannabe politicians rise from the muck and mire to complain about everything the other team is doing, kiss babies, make promises, show up to every public meeting until they lose, and then never be seen again (at least not until the next election).

But, you don’t have to be a reporter to know when “Silly Season” is in full gear. At least in America, all you need to do is look at the front lawns of your neighbors, grassy street corners overflowing with signs telling voters their horse is the one to beat, and your mailbox, stuffed with postcards from D’s, R’s and everyone in between.

Korea does things a little differently, and a lot bigger.

Supporters Over the Moon as Candidate Ends Campaign in Busan

Presidential hopeful Moon Jae In of the Democratic United Party
makes his final campaign in Busan on Dec. 18

Korea's Campaigns Bring a Whole New Meaning to the Term "Electoral Party"

Campaign rally in Busan, April 2012

Hoobo Blues

I was out walking last night through a very warm and pleasant Spring evening, striding along the empty streets, singing and dancing and letting my inner dionysian loose, mostly to the music of John Lee Hooker, when I suddenly discovered that election season had come to Gyeongju.

The sign reads: “Hwak! Bakkooja! Gyeongju-ai Say-Lo-Oon Seontaek 7 Kim Seokgi”

Hwak! (what the hell does hwak mean?) Let’s Change! Gyeongju’s New Choice 7 Kim Seokgi

Letter from Korea, January 2012

January 10, 2012

Dear Ireland,

For starters, Happy New Year.

Another year of my life in Korea has passed. This March will mark the seven year anniversary of my first arrival in Korea. It seems like that long. That’s neither good nor bad; it’s just how I feel. If I look back on 2011 I can say that it has been a good year. As well as passing some milestones, it has been productive, it has been exciting, it has been tragic, and it has definitely strengthened my resolve to see things through in the future. But, I don’t really want to go on about how 2011 was when 2012 is here and happening now.

South Korean Opposition Party Ahead

Voter turnout at 54.5% was high, and the South Korean opposition Democratic Party (DP) has claimed victory. But, several races, including Seoul, are still too close to call. As I read it, the DP took 6 posts, including some traditional conservative bastions, to the Grand National Party’s 5.

The DP claimed Lee and his conservative party have put national security at risk by taking a confrontational approach towards Pyongyang. Other issues such as Lee’s push for refurbishing South Korea’s four major rivers and his alternative to a contentious project to create a new administrative town in a central region have been sidelined.

Subversive AND Skeptical in the South

Just when I get frustrated with the expat blogosphere – which seems utterly ridiculous with conservatives who trust implicitly that the voices in their head spewing out invective are more convincing than facts – students give me hope. I’m not working today, but the BBC picks up the load. Sungsoo Ji in Masan and I would probably agree.

I’ve done my national service and I’ve still got friends in the army. They’re saying that soldiers are getting more training and that things are getting serious.

Our president could be overreacting though – North Korea doesn’t want war.

To be honest, I’m not sure I trust the information given to us about the Cheonan sinking. It could be a trick because it’s election period at the moment, so it could be some kind of strategy.

Very Expensive Political Theater

#2 Trumps #3Today is Election Day for everyone from mayors to school board members throughout South Korea. It’s a day off from work, but judging from the four pages of ballots the more than 38,861,000 eligible voters have to deal with, it might take all day.

Each voter will be required to fill in four different ballot sheets in each of the two rounds of voting to select representatives for local governments and councils.

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