[Viewpoint] The frustrated generation

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[Viewpoint] The frustrated generation

Voters in their 20s, 30s and 40s have emerged as a new force after playing a decisive role in the election of a political novice and independent candidate to the Seoul mayoral post. Seven out of 10 in the age group that makes up two-thirds of the Seoul population cast their ballots in support of civilian activist Park Won-soon.

This generation distrusts and abhors mainstream political parties and supports alternative leadership figures like Seoul National University professor and software mogul Ahn Cheol-soo.

But these voters cannot be simply defined as unaffiliated or a third-power force. Their identity is too distinct to be generalized as such. They have several common features:

This generation, made up of people currently in their 20s to 40s, is used to waking up and ending the day with liquid-crystal screens. The screens of home television sets, smartphones (that are now used by more than 20 million people), computers, advertisement monitors and car navigation systems are made of liquid crystal.

This age group makes everyday use of the screens to tailor information. The older generation, however, prefers the information and content provided by TV stations and newspapers.

The younger generation gets actively involved in the world within the liquid-crystal screens by sharing and spreading their views. They create amusing content to engage and connect with their peers.

Amusement and creativity are a must in the infinite cyberspace that breeds upon diversity and competition.

The convergence of interests becomes the fundamental supplier in the information age. This generation is the main consumer that makes use of these mediums every day.

Their group identity can be defined by their frustration about the inequalities and narrow-mindedness of the conservative society.

They are disassociated from strict ideology and ridicule the conventional group’s branding them as pro-North Korean for their liberal views.

They also know and like to point out that the older generation is not always right. With their skills, intelligence and creativity to dominate the content of the liquid-crystal screens, they solidify their resources and network to offshore political power.

They support no political parties because none can understand and represent their identity and voice. If the existing parties want to engage this generation, they must change their means of communication and alter their message.

*The writer is a professor at the Seoul National University Graduate School of International Studies.

By Lee Keun
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