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Monday, December 17, 2012

Time is up

Korea votes tomorrow, but the campaign only started Sunday with the end of the primaries, and the first debate.

Officially, it was the third debate, and MOON Jae-in won the Democratic United Party primaries three months ago, but he had first to wait for the outsider AHN Cheol-soo to bow out*, and then for Democratic Labor Party candidate LEE Jung-hee to let him square off one-to-one with PARK Geun-hye.

And even then, the left-wing activist waited until the last hours before the final TV debate, leaving an empty chair at the table for all to see. Thankfully, neither PARK nor MOON tried to talk to the chair the way the ghost of Clint Eastwood did during the last Republican Convention. But anyway and unfortunately for MOON, after the two dulls featuring LEE, only few people watched this show where (judging at least by the body language) only he was in a mood for debate. 

So this debate never happened, time is up, and next time will be too late to vote for economic, political, or social reforms. The system is simply not sustainable, and the demographic equation keeps making things worse every year. Helped by a - to say the least - not always constructive opposition, LEE Myung-bak leaves a nation far more divided than when he took office. And if his government prevented Korean economy from collapsing at the peak of the crisis, when speculators went at its throat from overseas, it let Korean society as a whole be undermined by its old demons from within, weakening an already fragile balance of powers.

Of course, this election is not just a question of turnouts among specific segments (young adults, female seniors, Korean expats...).

I already said it (six month ago to the day in "25 years later"), this moment is all about constitutional values. So if they're still hesitating, Korean voters can consider this election as if it were a referendum for their constitution, and chose their next leader according to what they believe they truly stand for, regardless of who they will face in North Korea, China, or Japan.

It's not about what Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, or Shinzo Abe will do, but about how Korea defines itself.

Seoul Village 2012
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* "Scratch that: Dynasty, Dallas, or the Twilight Zone?"

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