Tuesday, April 15, 2008

South Korea's 18th General Election

South Korea held its 18th general election last week. After a 13-day official campaign period, President Lee Myung-bak's Grand National Party snagged a majority of parliamentary seats, paving the way for Lee administration policy to pass the National Assembly. I've long bemoaned the excessive campaign period U.S. politicians enjoy, yet South Korea's 13 days seemed incredibly short. Candidates had no choice but to hit the ground running, trying to cover constituencies, shake hands, and hold babies as quickly and efficiently as the next guy or gal on the docket. Most campaign workers seemed to fit a fairly narrow demographic. In Korea, they're called ajummas. That refers to married, usually middle-aged and older women. To the left, a couple "campaign ajummas" (as I call them) hit Seoul streets early on a Sunday morning. You can see a banner promoting candidate #2 in the background. Banners of this type, ajummas dressed like this pair, and trucks outfitted with booming PA systems, podiums, and large television screens were seen all over Seoul during the campaign period.

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