Thursday, December 19, 2002

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ANTI-AMERICANISM AS A CAMPAIGN TACTIC, CONT'D: Running on an anti-American platform, South Korea's center-left candidate Roh Moo-hyun narrowly won yesterday's presidential election. [Anti-American? Might that be an exaggeration?--ed. Not much of one. On the eve of the election, National Alliance 21 chairman Chung Mong-joon withdrew his support for Roh after the latter indicated a preference for neutrality in the US-DPRK cconflict, stating, "South Korea should be able to mediate the possible quarrel between North Korea and the U.S. I will call for concessions from both countries so the nuclear issue can be resolved peacefully."]

If my hypothesis about the long-term effects of anti-American campaigns is right, in six months Roh will be an incredibly unpopular leader. Given the meager fruit born from South Korea's "sunshine policy" towards North Korea under Kim Dae Jung, I'm feeling pretty confident.

As an aside, click here for a pretty interesting FT article on how the Korean parties used the Internet to woo South Korea's younger voters. Given that South Korea has "the world's highest penetration of high-speed internet connections" this could be a harbinger of the 2004 presidential election in this country.

UPDATE: Alert reader J.K. e-mails a salient upside I failed to mention: "The election signals the demise of regionalism in Korean politics. Just as recently a decade ago, bitter regionalism fueled presidential politics. A candidate would routinely receive greater than 80% of votes in his home region and receive less than 20% in hostile regions.... political allegiances in this election are realigning along generational lines. I see this as significant step in Korea's maturing democracy. Reduced regionalism will mean less corruption and nepotism in government (and business), a greater national identity, and a more stable political landscape."

posted by Dan on 12.19.02 at 09:53 AM