OPINION

[Opinion] Why I will vote this Wednesday

South Korea has its General Elections on Wednesday. Watching the highlights to a recent television debate, which aired on local broadcaster JTBC, I could not hide my dismay.

“The country that young people have ruined, the country that young people have messed up, the elderly must save.”

This remark by former journalist Kim Jin, who appeared on the show as a panelist representing the conservative bloc, sparked much debate online. People raised concerns that such views may be shared among the leadership of the ruling People’s Power Party as Kim is not only a member of the PPP, but is also known to have personal connections to high ranking party members.

Whether he represents the party or not, his views cannot be further from the truth.

It is uncontested that South Korea’s young adults have always played a pivotal role in South Korean politics. They were at the hearth of renewing South Korea’s democracy. Students played an important role in the candlelight protests that impeached former president Park Geun-hye, who allowed her personal aide to meddle with state affairs. South Korea’s young adults also led the “Me Too” movement, seeking to correct gender-based violence in the workplace. Both cases illustrate young adults seeking to end outdated customs and practices that have plagued Korean society and politics. Korean young adults have always been at the center of the domestic political scene—not “mess[ing] up” the country, but urging it to keep up with the times.

Meanwhile, young adults here have—on the contrary—often fallen victim to state power. A young 20-year-old corporal lost his life last year, fulfilling an unjustified, yet dangerous, order. His honor was further tarnished as politicians and military officials scurried to deny responsibility. Over 150 people—mostly in their 20s and 30s—died in a crowd crush on Halloween, while the top official responsible for the safety of her constituents missed safety precaution meetings to take a personal trip. Millions of students preparing for college admissions fell into despair after learning that the daughter of South Korea’s former Minister of Justice used her father’s influence to get into a local medical school.

And the audacity to say that Korea’s young adults have “ruined the country.”

Of course, I am not here to pour gasoline on the generational conflict Kim Jin has started. The elderly has contributed extensively to South Korea’s development, and has sacrificed far more than we can fathom. And we most certainly need their wisdom to navigate this age of political turmoil.

But Kim Jin’s remarks exhibit exactly why we should walk into that poll booth on Wednesday. South Korea’s young adults are just as attentive and reactive to politics as any other generational demographic. South Korea’s young adults know how to hold politicians accountable. We know how to stand up for ourselves when state power oppresses. We know that when a person pits two of the most vulnerable demographics against each other, their intentions are not the most angelic.

To show them that, that is why I vote.

The author is a former Editor-in-Chief and the current Chief Editorial Writer at The SNU Quill. –Ed.