Risk of Violence in Pre-Election Korea

Risk of Violence in Pre-Election Korea

 

The field of Korean politics is known for its dynamics. And with the elections coming up, there is not a day gone by without some excitement.

The 21st legislative election is to be held on the 15th this month. The Korean National Assembly, the equivalent of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, consists of 300 members who will all be either re-elected, or leaving their office.

The public sentiment, perhaps not entirely reflected by the polls, is more negative than otherwise against the current government made up of the Democratic Party. It is due partly to the recent outbreak of the new coronavirus and its effect on the economy, but it is undeniable that the Korean economy had been suffering quite badly for quite some time. The most significant opposition, the United Future Party is a new formation of mostly conservative factions. Its main objective is to pull the reins in on President Moon’s policies.

In the recent days, there have been endless happenings in and around the party. On 9th April, there was an attempt to attack its candidate for the district of Gwang-jin, Seoul. The said candidate is a Mr. Oh Se-hoon, who is a former mayor of the capital. The apprehended attacker was said to be in his fifties, and was caught with a knife in hand. He was stopped before anyone was hurt.

Despite the fact that guns are practically non-existent in the civic life of Korea, there is the occasional violent attack for political reasons. As it happens, the legislator-candidate Oh was on his election campaign with the former President Park Geun-hye when a man cut her face just below the ear with a knife.

In 2015 there has also been an American Ambassador, Mark Lippert, who was terrorized and cut in the arm and around the same area as the former President Park. The weapon in this incident was also a knife. During and after Park’s impeachment, the streets filled with protesters on her behalf have also been attacked by cars and knifes.

Most of these acts of terror are usually explained away with a mental illness, but there is no denying the fact that the perpetrators also had very pronounced political inclinations. It is perhaps just as well that, because of COVID-19, these are not exactly the time for travelling the country or being on a crowded street. For the time being, caution is advised for residents in Korea.

 

–J. Chung.

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