South Korea Decides Today

19 Dec

South Korean Election Day

Today South Koreans vote for a president. If not for the historic contest between a woman and a man (perhaps a stirring example of generational change), there’s not much compelling about this poll. In fact, if Japanese voters just punted on an election that might decide Japan’s economic health for at least a year, South Koreans don’t even need to have an election.

South Korea’s presidential campaign reaches its climax on December 19 when voters choose between conservative ruling Saenuri party candidate Park Geun-hye and progressive opposition Democratic Unity Party (DUP) candidate Moon Jae-in. Both campaigns have focused on domestic economic issues and they have obscured their foreign policy differences as they converge to the center.

This reflects public consensus on foreign policy fundamentals, such as strong public support for the alliance with the United States, support for renewed dialogue with North Korea to stabilize inter-Korean relations, growing concern about the impact of a rising China, rising discomfort with the direction of politics in Japan, and support for sustaining South Korea’s contributions to the global agenda.


Although both candidates condemned North Korea’s satellite launch, it is a likely non-factor in the election. North Korea has a history of undertaking provocative actions that could potentially influence South Korean election outcomes, but South Korean voters are accustomed to this game, and North Korea is not a primary issue for most voters.

For those who like stats – and for those living in Busan who need a reason to convince them to vote – The Korean breaks down the stakes for the two candidates.

Well, it’s a day off from work at least.


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