[VIEWPOINT]Democracy lives on the informedThe first of two very important elections for Koreans this year is scheduled for June 13.
The campaign season here is always heated and full of passion and many surprises. The strength of Korea is in its democratic process, which although still very young is already the envy of many nations.
The stability of the democratic process and the firm conviction of the Korean people to maintain a viable democracy is one of the important reasons Korea has become a top country for foreign investors.
These elections are very important to Korea. More so than many other nations, Koreans must elect the right leaders.
Over the years, one of the interesting things I have learned about Korea is that with the right leader, Koreans can accomplish their national goals.
This seems to be true in almost all institutions, whether government, academic or private industry.
A good example of this can be seen in the Korean national soccer team, which has been performing so incredibly well, much to the surprise of the nation.
The ability, skill and determination of the players was not created by their coach, Guus Hidink, but he has excelled in inspiring the players to use their abilities, skill and determination to the maximum.
It is imperative, therefore, that the citizens of Korea choose the right leader.
To maintain a strong democracy, the citizens of that democracy must be informed participants in the election process.
Voting is one of the most important privileges in a democracy, but unfortunately it is a privilege that is often abused. The right to vote is abused if it is not exercised.
All too often, individuals think that their vote is not important or will not make a difference in the outcome or in national affairs.
Recall the presidential election in the United States last year. Approximately 100 million Americans voted in that election. President George W. Bush won the election by only 250 votes.
Each person's vote counts and each person's vote is critically important. No one should accept the notion that his or her vote is not important.
The right to vote is also abused if it is exercised without the voter being properly informed about the candidates and their policies. Korean citizens should look at the content and substance of the candidates carefully and make their decision based upon their beliefs as to how the candidate will lead and whether they want to go where the candidate will lead them. Exercising voting rights on any other basis weakens a democracy.
Election day, June 13, is a holiday. I hope that all Korean citizens will exercise their democratic right in an informed manner and then use the rest of the day to have fun with their families and friends enjoying the fruits of their nation.
The writer is president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.
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