Coronavirus News Asia

Korea’s election campaign proceeds despite virus

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South Korea goes to the polls on Wednesday to vote in National Assembly elections amid a pandemic and after a campaign that has been quiet on the streets but noisy online.

With 44 million eligible voters, results are expected to be in by Thursday morning at the latest, according to the National Election Commission, or NEC. With the election taking place every four years, the newly elected parliament will sit until 2024. Early indications are that Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party is poised for a major victory.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or KCDC, and the NEC jointly set the guidelines at voting stations at a time when South Korea seems to have contained the novel coronavirus at a manageable level.

The number of new cases is now hovering at less than 50 a day. And Daegu, the southeastern city that was the epicenter of the outbreak in Korea, recorded no new cases last Friday for the first time. Daegu had previously suffered the highest number of new cases – 1,018, on February 27.

Those numbers provided the KCDC and NES with the confidence they needed to go ahead with an election like no other.

Electioneering

Candidates have been asked by the NES not to gather in large numbers, forcing campaign managers to think of new ways to appeal to voters. As a result, parliamentary hopefuls have been holding live talk shows with voters in online fora, posting clips of them interacting with citizens and even introducing popular restaurants located in their districts.

Park Joo-min, a candidate for the governing Democratic Party in Seoul’s Eunpyeong district, has been uploading speeches online. On a more attention-grabbing note, he has also posted a video of him singing a song with the lyrics including his various pledges.

Lee Nak-yeon, a former prime minister of the Democratic Party who is running for a seat in Jongno in downtown Seoul, has been hosting a weekly YouTube talk show with party candidates since early March. Lee also uploaded videos of himself hitting the streets and communicating with market vendors – always a popular demographic around election time.

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