Is lowering the voting age necessary?There has recently been a discussion on lowering the current voting age. The argument for lowering the age maintains that the other members of the OECD all share the voting age of 18 while Korea does not. Noting the “global standard,” the argument contends that since most of the OECD members observe the limit, Korea should follow suit.
What the pro-change argument fails to recognize is that social and cultural elements differentiate states across the globe; the difference in voting age is thus only natural because of differing social consensus. Hence, no “global standard” can justifiably dictate the uniformity of social consensus.
Korea, therefore, does not have to feel pressured to lower the voting age to 18; it has its own consensus agreeing to the voting age of 19 codified in the civil code. Plus, Japan and Taiwan, the other Asian members of the OECD, also are not lowering the voting age to 18.
Even if Japan and Taiwan show signs of changing the voting age in the near future, determining the appropriate age to vote always remains subject to national consensus, never dependent on international circumstances.
By Choi Si-young, Editing adviser of Yonsei European Studies at Yonsei University