Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Back to the Future

It's election day in Korea again today, this time for the National Assembly, which means that the last few days have seen a succession of political candidates trundling around the local streets on the back of their blue Bongo trucks in the company of young girls (what is wrong with this image?). Not content with this, candidate number 2's campaign team evidently hit upon the idea of broadcasting their message to the captive audience in our apartment block complex, by parking underneath and delivering and impassioned (i.e. typically sometimes near hysterical) speech to anyone who cared to listen, or couldn't escape from the racket. Take note future politicians of Korea - this may actually be a vote loser.

I could almost spot the tired looks on the policemen's faces from fifteen floors above, as I suspect the campaign workers placated them with promises that they would shortly leave and move on to harassing some other block.

Meanwhile, there's a seemingly well-funded new entrant, in the shape of the recently-formed 'Family Party for Peace & Unity'. Their Bongo pitch seems to involve videos of girls dancing - no, not those sort of girls.

Now call me an old political hack but I get a bit suspicious about apparently well-organised party machines appearing out of nowhere, especially with words like 'family', 'peace' and 'unity' in their title, because it's been my experience that those who talk about such concepts in combination are usually not quite at the liberal end of the political spectrum - there are a lot of politicians in this world that think that peace and unity is something you force on people. Now, there may be a bit of controversy here because I gather that the Family Party for Peace & Unity deny they are a front for the Unification Church (aka The Moonies), it's just - they say - that they happen to have a lot of Moonies as party members...

Anyway, the way they want to unite families is by ensuring the reversal of a recent change in the law which considerably weakened the patriarchal 'household head' system - instead they favour a stronger male-dominated family unit which is harder to legally sign yourself away from. I guess that would take care of 'family' and 'unity', but good luck getting some peace in that scenario.

Meanwhile the people over at Party 6 don't actually have bad and highly infectious colds, but rather they are very sad, because the woman on the left, who was a presidential candidate for the Grand National Party, lost the nomination. Consequently, she split from it with her supporters, who claimed they were being frozen out of party nominations, causing them to write in their leaflet:

"As long as truth and justice are alive, Korea never cries."

(ergo truth and justice are dead - something I could have told them some time ago). Their local candidate goes on to expand on this line in his leaflet, asking:

"Was supporting her the worst sin ever? Was it a crime supporting Park Geun-Hye?"

Or that could be Bag Geun-Hye (박근혜), depending on your Romanisation. Either way, it's sounds like Pak in Korean pronunciation, which almost certainly means they missed a trick in not calling their new Party 'Pak to the Future', rather than the equally bizarre but not nearly so punchy, 'Alliance of People in Favour of Pak'.

Please go out and vote if you can - because nobody else is so far, with Yonhap reporting a low turnout at 3pm, despite the incentives offered to voters:

"The National Election Commission fears a record low turnout of around 52 percent. In an unprecedented move it is offering people incentives -- discounted entry fees to museums, parks and cultural facilities -- to cast their ballots."

But it's raining, so the Election Commission's move is unlikely to be much of a vote winner.


Charles Montgomery said...

Great post...

Here in Deajeon we also had the vote-losing loudspeaker trucks roaming. I don't know enough Korean yet to understand them exactly, but I thought they were saying

"Wake up Waygook! You will not, repeat, WILL NOT sleep in! This message will now be repeated 800 times."

And here in Daejeon all the "campaign girls" were ajummas.


Mike said...

Thanks - sorry to hear that you get a different class of campaign girls in Daejeon!

And yes, that's exactly what they were saying.

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