The Power of the Vote and Picture

Whit here:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Always has been. This year there is even more reason to celebrate in the Altizer household. In addition to celebrating her 27th birthday, my little sister, Becca got engaged to the man of her dreams over the weekend. We are excited. Not only do we inherit a fine young gentleman in Darrin, but I also understand he is giving the family a couple of head of cattle as a dowry for our youngest.
The Presidential election is tomorrow and so far campaigning in South Korea seems far less annoying than it is in America. I think this is only because I don’t understand a word blaring from the loud speakers that have found their way onto every corner of my once peaceful dong (that’s “neighborhood” in Korean). Instead of listening to empty promises no candidate will actually keep, we are left with only the singing and dancing of the chirpy volunteers camped out by the candidate’s campaign trucks.

These little ubiquitous Bongos (that’s a type of truck in Korea) display the candidate’s mug across the sides while blaring out what I can only assume is the candidate’s platform in attached speakers. Trucks weave through our neighborhood in a similar fashion selling produce on Saturdays and Sundays.

Lee Myung-bak seems to be the clear favorite despite the fact that the investigation into his finances is being reopened after the first investigation was deemed bogus. According to Lindsay’s and my students Seoul loves him but Gwangju doesn’t. One of Lindsay’s classes said those who support Lee only like him because he is a good speaker. My sixth graders told me he is a liar and he only cares about money. Only one student, Father (nicknamed by his classmates because he looks older than me) stuck up for Lee, becoming pretty flustered by his classmates accusations that Lee isn’t exactly honest. “Teacher, he is good!” Father finally mustered. Lee still didn’t win my class’s mock election.
After I heard from them on their thoughts, they asked me who I was going to vote for. “I am not,” I said, “don’t you have to be a Korean citizen?” No answer. I thought maybe I should look into teaching Korean government class after this blatant disregard for their voting rights. But this misunderstanding stems more from my inability to wrap the US’s voting rights blanket around that idea. It turns out that foreigners who have lived here for only 3 years and are considered permanant residents can vote(at least for a few things). In a Korea Times article written last March they reported the following:

Foreigners with permanent residency here will cast ballots in the upcoming local elections in May, exercising their voting rights for the first time to elect governors, mayors and council members.

According to the National Election Commission (NEC), foreigners who have lived here for three years or longer since they obtained permanent residency, will be allowed to vote in the local elections on May 31 if they are 19 years or older.

South Korea revised the election law last August to allow foreigners voting rights.

The law enables 6,579 foreigners, including 6,511 with Taiwanese roots, to participate in voting to elect mayors, governors and council members.
They also include 51 Japanese, eight Americans, five Chinese and two Germans.
So maybe you cannot vote for president, but a few other important offices. But even though I am not voting, they still wanted to know who I would vote for. After telling them I was not sure what each of the twelve candidates stood for, they asked me to pick based on looks. “Ummmm.” But after telling Lindsay about this tonight, she quickly answered “four” (they all have numbers here), “they have him on a bike in his campaign poster.”
Now, Lindsay could actually tell you more about the candidates than most because she reads the Korea Times in the morning. But I have a feeling people have voted for candidates for such reasons. Think about that when you go to vote this coming year America. The uninformed voter is like someone that comes into a conversation midway through and gives his/her two cents with no frame of reference. Not only are they annoying, but they can plague the process.

One Comment

  1. Jessica says:

    Congrats, Becca!


Comments are closed.