Korea is a dynamic country
In Asia’s Golden Age
Korea was one of its lamp-bearers.
And this lamp is waiting to be lit again
For enlightenment in the East.
The above poem was written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1929. Lo and behold, this lamp has been lit and it illuminates not only Asia but also the whole world.
K-pop has taken the world by storm and it is now a popular global phenomenon. K-drama is also popular in many countries, and Korean cinema is critically acclaimed internationally. To enjoy such cultural content, multitudes of people in many parts of the world are learning the Korean language.
Additionally, Korea has a rags-to-riches history that fascinates people around the world. Korea’s economy was a basket case more than half a century ago, but today it is the world’s 10th largest economy as well as the 7th largest exporter and 9th largest importer. Additionally, Korea has a competitive advantage in the production of semiconductors, cell phones, cars, electric batteries, ships, televisions, and other electronic products. Many Korean companies such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG are household names around the world.
Korean politics is also worth mentioning, as the country has made remarkable progress over the years in having a more democratic political system. Presidential, parliamentary and local elections were held at regular intervals and political power was transferred peacefully between the two main parties.
K-politics is anyone’s guess; it works in mysterious ways. Take the two recent elections for example. The results of these elections took not only Koreans but also foreign observers of Korea by surprise―twice.
The former government led by President Moon ruled the country for five years. Yet some policies he pursued did not achieve the expected results. Korean voters therefore wanted a change of administration, and some expected the People Power Party candidate to easily defeat his opponent. It therefore came as a surprise to some that the margin by which he won the election was very small.
About three months later, on June 3, local elections were held and Korean voters gave the People Power Party a landslide victory. For some, the second surprise was that the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) lost the local elections by a bigger margin than in the presidential election. Why did this happen? Although there could be a variety of reasons, I think the course they took after the presidential election cemented their fate to a large extent. Let me elaborate.
After the DPK narrowly lost the presidential election, it did not take its defeat seriously. Instead of planning to win back voters in the upcoming local elections, they rushed to pass lawsuit reform laws – which some say were designed to protect their leaders, Moon and Lee, because they could have made the investigated and prosecuted for various allegations.
With this hidden agenda in mind, they proposed the prosecution reform bills aimed at weakening prosecutors’ investigative powers. According to an April 13 Realmeter poll, 38.2 percent of respondents supported the reform and 52.1 percent of Koreans polled opposed it, but, as they held the majority, the DPK pushed and embraced the reform plans. law in parliament. They thought they could get away with what they did, but their misguided intentions and arrogance seem to have turned off many voters. It is therefore not surprising that the DPK was soundly beaten in the local elections. This episode shows what happens if politicians go against the will of voters.
Indeed, Korea is a dynamic country ― culturally, economically and politically.
The writer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a freelance columnist and author of “Tales of a Korean Globetrotter”.