[GOING TO THE BLOGS]ELECTION SPECIAL

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[GOING TO THE BLOGS]ELECTION SPECIAL

This week, bloggers had a chance to witness Korean democracy in action, and come election day, some were just overwhelmed by it all. “We get a full-on assault on the senses,” wrote Patrick at “parkarticle.com” (www.parkatcircle.com/wp). “As early as 7 a.m. (some earlier!!!!), there are trucks with loudspeakers promoting the various candidates, and blasting the same ‘cleverly’ reworded pop song.” And to boot, “not one of the trucks or supporters has even hinted at a candidate’s platform, so we don’t know what the candidates stand for.” That reticence, however, was not enough to dissuade Skindleshanks at “Skindleshanks’ Cafe” (www.skindleshanks.blogspot.com) from exercising his new right, shared with about another 6,500 long-term foreign residents in Korea, to vote. “I welcome the opportunity to vote in Korea ― it makes me feel that I can become a little less of an ‘outsider.’” But cynicism quickly set in, with Skindleshanks opting to vote for a candidate “for no other reason than that he seems intent on actually doing his job rather than wasting his (and our) resources politicking.”
Meanwhile, in what is unquestionably the most erudite Korea-related blog written by a Finn, Antti Leppanen at “Hunjangui karuch’im” (www.hunjang.blogspot.com) pointed up a laughable accusation from the Pan-National Student Union for the National Unification that it was in fact those dastardly Yanks that were behind the knife attack on GNP leader Park Geun-hye last week, and then treated us to North Korea’s exhortation to the South’s people to vote for the Uri Party “since voting for the Grand National Party would be a vote for war and national destruction.”
It was destruction of a sort, as the Grand Nationals handed the Uri Party a trouncing of biblical proportions. Though few tears were shed on the blogosphere over the fate of President Roh and his cohorts, some, including “Kushibo” (www.kushibo.blogspot.com), had sniffed danger in too emphatic a victory. “If it's too easy, then first and foremost, the conservative party might get cocky, and start trying to do some of the obnoxious things that rich conservatives with a sense of entitlement ... do when they come to power.”
For Andy, now blogging on “The Marmot’s Hole” (www.rjkoehler.com), the left’s implosion is a no-brainer. “This is not rocket science,” he writes. “Running three progressive parties against a united conservative party in a first-past-the-post system is a losing proposition.” But Andy sees even worse times ahead for the beleaguered Uri Party, offering a wager of a six-pack of beer that the party breaks up by the end of the year.
The big casualty in Uri’s wretched showing is its (now) former Chairman Chung Dong-young, a man whose support among bloggers, it seems fair to say, is less than unqualified. “He’s a plasticky demagogue who traded on the hatred of Korea’s greatest benefactor and its most prosperous and democratic neighbor,” spits Joshua on “The Korea Liberator” (www.korealiberator.org); “he betrayed the people of North Korea to God knows how many years of starvation and terror.” Despite these differences of opinion, bloggers displayed reluctance to kick a man when he’s down. Or not. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Nomad helpfully advised Mr. Chung on “The Lost Nomad” (www.lostnomad.org).

THE DARKER SIDE OF SEOUL
After a lean spell, Mark at “Scribblings of the Metropolitician” (www.metropolitician.blogs.com/scribblings_of_the_metrop) posts an exhaustively researched piece this week on Korea’s sex industry. “The Korean government's own late 2002 estimate places one million women engaged in sex work at any one time, which is almost unbelievable until one remembers that it would take a high number to support an industry that was 4.4% of the GDP.” Mark interviewed one worker and asked her whether many had been coerced or kidnapped. “Perhaps such things were true in the ’70s or ’80s, and you heard about such cases sometimes in newspapers, but there are so many women wanting to work in red-light districts that there was no need for such ruthless recruiting.”


by Niels Footman

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