Netizens React to June 4 Elections

Article from The Hankyoreh:

“Aftermath of Sewol Tragedy” in Seoul, “Rural Support for Ruling Party and Urban Support for Opposition Party” in Gyeonggi, “Strong Conservatives” in Incheon


Elected big-city mayors and provincial governors. (Red: Saenuri Party, blue: NPAD)

The outcome of the local elections on June 4th was determined in the Seoul Capital Area. The Saenuri Party won eight races for big-city mayors and provincial governors, a drop from their victory in nine races in the last elections. The New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) could not feel triumphant because the Saenuri Party still won two out of three close races in the Seoul Capital Area, in Gyeonggi and Incheon. However, the tide was turned in Seoul where the NPAD claimed victory by a large margin. In Seoul, the “judgement of the Sewol tragedy” negatively affected the ruling party. In Incheon and Gyeonggi, however, the trend of rural support for the ruling party and urban support for the opposition party was observed.



Park Won-soon receives a pair of shoes from his supporter as he celebrates his victory for another four years of mayorship in Seoul.

Note that in Korean political vocabulary, ‘progressive’ and ‘conservative’ are often interchangeably used with ‘leftist’ and ‘rightist’.

Comments from Naver:

It is ironic that Seoulites are more enraged and eager to blame the ruling party for the Sewol tragedy than Gyeonggi people.


Why can’t the opposition party drop the North Korea card…. What affects them the most is being labelled as spinelessly accommodating to North Korea, even before people judge their political competence. As a person who hates the Chicken Head [Saenuri] Party, I feel trapped. They are completely failing to keep the ruling party in check, tsk tsk.


Above all, I feel reluctant to the black-and-white logic that separates classes and regions. Maybe a journalist living in a city thinks people in the countryside would not even be able to read an article that passive aggressively disparages them. After all, Hani journalists instinctively believe they are superior. Just another class in the social hierarchy.


I can’t understand why they would solely blame the ruling party for the Sewol tragedy…Do they not know the region where the accident happened…


So there are that many conservatives in Incheon? Ha. Though I knew many of them wouldn’t even care to vote, he.


It’s not that conservatives are strong in Incheon. It’s just that former mayor Song Young-gil messed up ㅡ.ㅡ


To be honest, “Judgement” sounds a bit funny. Who’s judging who? They are not different from each other.


Are you trying to imply conservatives are country bumpkins, you Hani rag?


The Sewol tragedy can only be blamed on the ruling party?? Does the opposition party have no lawmakers or politicians? They are all the same. I voted for the ruling party because I hate seeing the opposition party acting like they are innocent. You are not supposed to shift your responsibility to others. That’s not what a lawmaker or a politician is supposed to do. Both Saenuri and NPAD should look in the mirror.


The Sewol tragedy was politically exploited indeed…

Article from Yonhap News:

The Era of Progressive Superintendents of Education Begins…Green Light for Innovative Schools and Free School Lunch

Elected superintendents of education. (Blue: progressive, grey: conservative)

Elected superintendents of education. (Blue: progressive, grey: conservative)

The era of progressive superintendents of education represented by Gwak No-hyeon and Kim Sang-gon is commencing in full force with thirteen elected progressive superintendents including Jo Hee-yeon (Seoul) and Lee Jae-jeong (Gyeonggi). Eight years after the direct election system for superintendents of education was introduced in 2006, this is the first time the majority of the superintendents are politically progressive. In 2010, six out of sixteen superintendents were progressive.

As thirteen out of seventeen major cities and provinces will be supervised by progressive superintendents of education, it will boost progressive educational policies such as innovative schools, environment-friendly free school lunch, and the ordinance of student rights. On the other hand, this will also mean a tougher road ahead for policies such as autonomous private high schools and reverting Korean history textbooks back to government-published textbooks, which have been advocated by conservative superintendents of education and the Ministry of Education. The education field is sharply divided into anticipating the changes in the current education system that favors elitism and worrying about drastic changes that may lead to conflicts.


Comments from Naver:

Please at least do not work with the Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU). [The KTU is often thought to be radical leftist, communist and pro-North Korean by conservatives.]


It’s not even their money. Why are they so eager to give out free lunch? Why does the nation need to feed all kids who have no problem getting their own lunch? They just need to take care of the kids who need support. It’s all from the national revenue. What is free in the world?


Our country’s future depends on education. KTU……..sigh


At least superintendents of education should’ve been all conservative… Free lunch may sound nice but it’s from the tax-payers’ money.




When I was in my last year at high school 4 years ago, there was this KTU teacher. He spent 1/3 of his lecture hours mocking President Lee Myung-bak as 2 Mega Bytes and talking about politics. At least, I hope the progressive superintendents of education do not stay close to such politically biased KTU teachers.


Are they still talking about free lunch? They spent a lot because cafeteria ladies went on a strike to demand full employment and they went after environment-friendly food ingredients. However, they ended up detecting residual agricultural chemicals from some lunch meals and the quality of the food decreased due to official-business collusion. And they still talk about free meals. This drives me insane, tsk tsk.


The ordinance of student rights…. I wonder if that has any practical effect.


I object to incompetent public education where they cannot do anything else due to lack of budget after giving out free lunch!


I’m worried that there will be more incidents where students beat up teachers because of the trashy ordinance of student rights…

Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
  • Black_Plague

    Seeing how sharply divided things are between the Saenuri Party and NPAD (with no sight of it ending anytime soon), this gives further reason to believe that Korea isn’t ready for reunification in the long shot (or even never will be) and probably headed down to an undesirable future, if not already.

    As one of the comments translated has said, there really isn’t much difference between the two – especially taking account the nationalism chest-thumping present.

    Basically, folks are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    • ElectricTurtle

      Well the DPRK is more likely to collapse before any kind of controlled reunification can occur, and because the PRC doesn’t want to lose its buffer, I think it’s more likely the PRC will find a way to make NK a puppet state, I mean “autonomous region” in the ensuing chaos and power vacuum.

      • Black_Plague

        If that’s the case, then the question would be is whether China is capable of doing such or willing to go through costly lengths.

        DPRK collapsing would pose immense security concerns both in the short and long run for both Koreas and the PRC – varying from insurgencies and terrorism by elements of the rogue state security and military, massive civil war between opportunists, loyalists, pro-ROK and pro-PRC camps, ROK govt attempting to take NK for itself by deploying its own forces, the danger of WMD stocks winding up in the wrong hands and the list goes on.

        Trying to create an ‘autonomous region’ could potentially backfire on them. Sending boots on the ground definitely wouldn’t be taken too kindly by anyone either.

        • Boris

          Dear Leader will beomce Xi Jing Ping or whoever is in charge of China at the time.

  • RegisterToPost

    I hope they phase out those useless foreign English teachers. What a gigantic waste of money they are. Hire a 23-year-old fresh out of college, they come over here, get drunk, party in Hongdae, and fly home after a year. Their “teaching” consists of playing bomb games and showing movies.

    • Boris

      IF they do that, how you going to get a job as an ESL teacher???

    • mei mei

      Agree. Bunch of loser white guys in Asia. Waste of money. Im sick of seeing big nose honkies here

      • Science Patrol

        Can I buy you a drink?

        • Boris

          You can buy HIM a drink if you like.

      • Toogs

        What’s your view on gyopo dudes catfishing Chinese female profiles?

      • David

        Jealous much? Your welcome to go teach at a western school if you can get hired.

    • bigmamat

      I hate to break it to you but the women who blog about being Korean ESL teachers always give you a better picture of what it’s really like. Many of them come to teach and then find the system doesn’t have a real place for them. Many of them are certified teachers and complain about not being able to actually teach. They relate stories of sitting around in offices and not even getting in front of a classroom. The system seems to be a problem not necessarily the young people they are hiring. Many westerners are also shocked to find that there are little or no student services such as guidance counselors.

      • Guest

        “Many of them are certified teachers and complain about not being able to actually teach. ” How are you going to actually teach students who don’t speak your language though? And in korea they have some freedom, the teachers in japan are even more controled

        “They relate stories of sitting around in offices and not even getting in front of a classroom. ” it’s called desk warming and everyone has to do it, who complains about having to spend hours doing nothing on their desks?

        Most teachers in sk are young and have had no real teaching expirience in their countries so they think these complains are only valid there. Once they go abck to their countries and start teaching there they will realize how easy was the life in korea as an english teacher

        • bigmamat

          You’re suggesting that people like to sit around and stare at 4 walls all day when they could be doing something. Is that a Korean inclination? How can it be bad if a young person actually wants to teach? I know if I have to be at a job I’d rather be busy. It makes the day go by faster. Experience is also often over rated. Young people have a fresh perspective and haven’t been in the system long enough to become jaded by the bullshit.

          • shellfishbisque

            Indeed. A great number of teachers I have met here actually put a lot of effort and time into teaching. I used to put in 50 hour weeks when I worked at a 교대 here (happily, I might add). You won’t see the dedicated ones being drunk, culturally insensitive boors in Hongdae, but they are here and they are more numerous than you think.

            And yes, teaching students a second language when you don’t speak their first language is completely possible. It’s done every day in hundreds of countries. That’s how I have been learning Korean. It’s challenging, but it works.

            Too often here the symptom is confused with the actual cause. Native teachers working in tandem with dedicated Korean teachers is actually an effective way of educating, but the environment is often dysfunctional and discouraging (I’m certainly not implying it is only like that in Korea, I might add). When there is no proper knowledge base about how EFL should be effectively taught within a school, and, in addition, no interest in building a better program, then good teachers will eventually leave and be replaced by complacent ones. EFL is not often done correctly, but when it is, and when the passion is there from the school, it works.

            One of the other huge problems is certainly hiring. I’m not sure many people are familiar with how these jobs are advertised overseas. Let me give you an example from a recruiter in the USA:

            “Do you want to to live in a different country and earn over 2,000 USD a month, plus free housing? Then sign up today! No experience needed!”

            This was several years ago, but I doubt things have changed much. Who, exactly, do you hope to attract when you let third party recruiters write this nonsense and spam every 4th year undergraduate’s inbox? The waste of money is not the idea of bringing native teachers here, but the way the system is organized and managed. Teachers should be vetted and interviewed extensively before coming here. They aren’t.

            Korea needs a better English education system, but no one is interested in having a constructive dialogue on how to accomplish this. It’s much easier to say “fire them all” under the assumption that every native teacher is unqualified and they have no constructive input to give. You’re not helping Korea at all with this approach.

          • bigmamat

            I think recent months have uncovered quite a few problems with the Korean working culture. This is just another problem that is effecting more people than anyone is willing to calculate. I do look at a couple of blogs by non Korean teachers who are so dedicated and proud of their students. They must be working in some of the better schools. One of them just posted some picture of a recent class trip. Another teaches her elementary students english songs and then posts their performances to her blog. Who doesn’t like little kids singing songs and being proud of their accomplishment. Those are the kinds of teachers every education system needs.

      • lonetrey / Dan

        I have exactly one friend who is just like that. She’s Korean American but she went back to teach.

        Want a link to her blog?

        • bigmamat

          Sure I like nice blogs written by people with a good attitude. Life is way to short to constantly focus on the negative all the time.

          • lonetrey / Dan

            her old blog:

            I looked through her new blog, not much about her career at the moment so I’ll just leave it at that first one.

            I believe many posts are password protected, and I knew them once upon a long time ago, but I’ve lost them to the sands of time :/

  • Korean men are great leaders in the world of K-pop and plastic surgery

  • KCdude

    Saenuri (새누리) means “new world” in native Korean, without any Chinese vocabulary influence. Sae (새) is an adjective meaning “new”. Nuri (누리) means “world” based on Naver Dictionary also since 온누리 means “the whole wide world” in Korean. But a new world? The Great Seal of the United States has a Latin motto “novus ordo seclorum” or “New World Order”.

    Is South Korea trying hard to become a part of the USA?

    • Guest

      Right, because “New World” is Copyrighted by USA.

  • Chucky3176

    Those free lunches for everyone have been a huge disaster, yet they want to continue it. Insane. The quality of free food for the kids has gone down, while schools lack money to repair and maintain their buildings, because they blow all their budget on the free food. For instance, over 56% of Seoul’s schools have no budget left for repairing and maintaining the buildings… most of the budget spent on social programs like free lunch meals. While over four out of ten schools in Korea are still the squat toilet types, forcing kids who are not used to squat toilets to hold it in until they get home. What’s more maddening, the amount of wasted food that go uneaten and thrown away because those parents of the kids who don’t have any problems financially, want quality, not garbage for their children. Quite understandable really. The reason why the Progressives can’t get ahead, is their stubborn unwillingness to condemn North Korean bad actions, and clumsy attempts of disastrous socialist policies like the school lunch programs. They’ll keep on serving that crap for free, but meanwhile the school buildings are crumbling and making the buildings unsafe for children until there’s another Sewol like disaster in the future.

    • bigmamat

      Do all Korean kids get free school lunch or just low income? In the U.S. you have to qualify for school lunch by being below a certain household income level. School lunches in the inner cities and some rural areas are often the best meal a kid gets all day. Perhaps the school lunch program just needs an overhaul not complete abandonment.

      • Chucky3176

        They all get it, irregardless of income. Call it universal free lunch program. The logic in this was that if only the poor kids get the meals, they’ll be wangtta’ed, ostracized, or made fun of, by the other kids who are not in the program for the poor. So we don’t want that class distinction, so just socialize the schools and provide same meals for everyone. The problem with this is that parents are seething inside that their kids are getting fed low quality proletarian slop, and now they’re shopping around for schools that provide the best meals, and will even relocate their homes to the neighbors where these schools are located. It’s one more unnecessary stress heaped upon the school moms. If they wanted to help out the poor kids, then the government should improve the school facilities, offer better after school programs and daycares, and even improve on the universal healthcare to cover more then the 60% coverage currently. In a very class conscious society like Korea, Koreans find it shameful to openly receive government help, in full view of others, so I don’t think dividing up the poor students who need free lunch versus those who don’t need it, will help at all.

        • bigmamat

          American schools don’t make it obvious who gets free lunch. Kids are also free to bring lunch from home. I agree that schools should do all of the other things you mentioned as well as provide a free lunch to those kids that are in need. My kid never got free lunch but he had an “account” and bought lunch from his account. Prior to that kids bought tickets or used money. When my son was in Kindergarten he swallowed his ice cream money I gave him one day while waiting in line. But he never carried money for lunch except once a month when he turned it in for tickets or to his account. There are ways to do these things without getting all wrapped up in Korean angsty bullshit.

          • Butsu

            In Sweden we only have free lunch! The problem for us tho is that if the school needs to save some bucks they look at the food budget first.

      • Boris

        It’s the same in the UK. You have to qaulify for free lunch to get it. Not sure if the rules have changes since I was going to school.

        The difference is ‘face’. In England, since the lunches have to be paid before hand, the students all have to line up and get their meals (or in secondary schools, their ticket and then hot or cold lunches). So the process within school is the same, the only ones who know they are paying are the ones paying (or anyone they let know). The other thing is, people who are paying would prefer to be getting the free lunch and there isn’t something like ‘face’ to deal with in this type of situation.

  • Chucky3176

    Typical lunches provided, in order of elementary school, middle school, and high school. The elementary and middle schools are free lunches, the high school is paid by the user. Notice that the elementary and middle school free lunches have much higher portion of carbs to meat protein, to save money.

    • bigmamat

      They’re a hell of a lot better than lunches in the U.S. Try chicken nuggets, french fries and cheeseburgers.

      • Black_Plague

        Really depends. At the middle school I went at Korea, the food was actually pretty decent for the most part. Moving onto high school, not so much – it actually got to the point that a lot of the school parents raised it as an issue during one of the every-now-and-then meetings with the principal and staff.

        • bigmamat

          It wouldn’t do much good for the parents to complain around here. If they don’t like the lunches they just send a packed lunch.

          • Black_Plague

            Haha, ours went through the trouble of pressuring the school to give out better-quality lunch and would always bring it up upon every meeting (especially since many of the students lived in dorms, as they came from all over the country).

            Surprisingly, it actually worked, after a fair amount of time. Never really understood why they always scheduled dinner at 4:30 for the dormers though. .

          • bigmamat

            Well if you’re at a boarding school and that’s your only option then I can see why. Also, aren’t boarding schools private even in Korea? So the tuition probably isn’t cheap. I’d expect to get my money’s worth with at least feeding my kid properly.

          • Black_Plague

            Not necessarily, depending on what kind of school it is to begin with. To my knowledge, the prestigious ‘international ‘ schools would be the ones that have dorms and are privately run.

            Ours was public, and the dorms were only available to students from outside the city, never mind that local students weren’t even allowed to go in them (so they just sneaked in).

            Tuition overall wasn’t pricey, but the dormers did have to pay a hefty amount of extra money for the use of dorms. Having seen the rooms myself though, it was still pretty sub-par. The girls’ dorms had access to computers, a working refrigerator and had bigger rooms, while the guys only had a noraebang that wasn’t even allowed to be used during weekdays and their refrigerator was rather small (plus the top floor always letting out a putrid smell during late nights).

            Unlike the poor quality food issue, that one was never really considered an issue for some reason…so guys would just sneak out, grab a cab or bus and then head to the nearest local PC bang XD. Fun times, stumbling on your dorming friends at the neighborhood in curfew hours, dying to play a few rounds of Sudden Attack.

  • Science Patrol

    Korea’s got Seoul!

Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»