Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

Vanderbilt's First and Only Nonpartisan Political Journal

Vanderbilt Political Review

An Insider’s Look: South Korea Election Updates

Photo by Daniel Bernard on Upsplash

Green Onions, Dior Bag, and Doctors on Protest. This South Korea election cycle sounds fictitious, never mind the upcoming reality for the country’s election. On April 10th, 2024, South Korea will hold its legislative assembly elections, in which voters across the nation will select their representatives in the 300-member body assembly. In this tense election cycle, the road to victory for the PPP (the current party of the President Yoon Suk Yeol) is an arduous one.

What is at Stake?

Currently, South Korea is marked by three significant factors that have a widespread influence on its upcoming election: slowing economic growth, an aging population, and a rising cost of living. The road to claiming a majority of the assembly for the PPP will not be easy. President Yoon has recently been beset by numerous controversies that may stain his party’s chance of succeeding in their goals. 

Dior Bag Controversy

The first of the three controversies surrounds President Yoon’s wife, Kim Keon Hee (65). In January of this year, Kim was secretly videotaped receiving a Dior bag as a gift, which many of her pundits used to sow disarray in the PPP. This tactic was a stain on the PPP, portraying the party as corrupt and connected with the Chaebol families. 

Green Onion Controversy 

On March 18th, 2024, the President entered a grocery store in Seoul and stated that the prices of green onions were reasonable (0.65 for a bunch). In reality, the price of green onions was four to five times what was believed, which led to significant protests. In current DPK rallies, people began brandishing green onions with them, calling out the current President, stating that he was out of touch with the populace.

Doctor Strike 

On February 20th, in response to the burgeoning medical crisis within South Korea, the government sought out reforms to fix the medical school system. This system would increase enrollment in medical schools, to which many doctors responded angrily by walking out in protest. Many South Koreans, now faced with a severe lack of doctors for urgent medical procedures, have shifted the blame to the government of South Korea.

The main opposition party, the DPK, currently makes up around 180 of the 300 total assembly seats, representing a clear majority. However, as the PPP seeks to claim more seats ahead of the election, the question arises: can they do so after being plagued with past controversies?. This election poses significant consequences for Korea, its neighboring countries, and the global community. Consequently, Microsoft has warned of the possibility of China using AI to disrupt the campaigns and voting process in South Korea, a practice that would be used to promote favorable views of the nation. 

This upcoming election is relevant to Vanderbilt, as students give their perspective. Eddie Park, sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences gives his take on this election–“It’s quite alarming to see how 30mil people who are eligible to vote still haven’t voted for the election yet. Due to the limited amount of votes, this leaves unpredictable competitiveness for each province and city, which all together can drastically change the trajectory for our country’s capacity to address such as low birth rates, educational institutions, teenage suicide rates, low-income families, and low marriage rate along with South Korea’s political stance on issues such as the reunification with N. Korea, relations with U.S., China, and Japan, which can all play as a double-edged sword for our country’s well-being and economic prosperity.” As a result, the election’s impacts will be felt around the world; as the fourth largest economy in Asia and 13th largest in the world, with a global outreach from K-pop to Korean barbecue, what happens in Korea may influence the shores of the West.

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About the Contributor
Robert Tang
Robert Tang, Contributor
Robert Tang is a sophomore from New York City, double majoring in Economics and Political science with a minor in German Studies. His interests include international law, civil-military relations, and developments in the global political economy. Outside of VPR, he can be found trying out new restaurants in Nashville and walking in Centennial Park.