Not too late for the youth to speak upIn the South and the North alike, the generation in their 20s and 30s is in the spotlight. In North Korea, a young man in his late 20s has taken over the country for his father. In the South, voters in their 20s and 30s have a drastic impact on elections. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who won the Oct. 26 by-election, was supported by 69.3 percent of voters in their 20s and 75.3 percent of voters in their 30s. The young voters gave a cold shoulder to the ruling party in a Seongnam-B by-election in April and the Seoul mayoral election last year.
Then do the young Koreans in the 20s and 30s have a progressive tendency and tend to support the opposition party? Lee Yeon-ju, the director of the Powerhouse of Future Korea, says that both the pride of the liberal opposition and the panic of the Grand National Party are illusions. She added that those in their 20s and 30s cannot be defined within the frame of ideology. If you ask young voters to evaluate political parties, they are likely to say, “I don’t like the Democratic Party, but I hate the Grand National Party.”
Just like other members of the older generation, I have both affection and prejudice toward this generation. Its members struggle with the financial burden of college tuition, but fancy cafes with expensive menus are crowded with college students. They criticize the control of election campaigns on social network services, but the student governments at colleges and universities ban the use of SNS for their election campaigns.
It is just impossible to divide the young generation into the progressive and the conservative, the ruling party and opposition party.
Seoul National University Professor Kang Won-taek cited opinion poll results and claimed that this generation is “rather progressive” in subjective political ideology but has a conservative tendency on specific policies.
On suspension of aid until the resolution of North Korean nuclear tension, capital punishment and building more nuclear power plants, the young generation responded with a conservative tendency. About 65.1 percent of the respondents in their 20s and 54.4 percent of those in their 30s said that they do support a specific party.
Young people are getting more attention, and we should welcome the fact that politicians are conscious of the growing voices of the young voters. It is not too late for young Koreans to speak up and change the future.
The writer is an editorial writer at the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun