Today is general election day in Korea and also a national holiday so everyone will have a chance to cast their vote. This is not the presidential election, which will take place next year. Today, on the other hand, is the day when Koreans decide who to put in the national assembly. In the spirit of this day, I thought I’d take the chance to educate myself and my readers about the current status of Korean politics and of course throw in a lot of awesome Korean political vocabulary in the process.

The ruling party is the Saenuri party 새누리당, which is also the party of the current president Park Geun Hye. Often this  is just referred to as 여당 in Korean, simply meaning ruling party. This party is on the conservative side of the political spectre. The opposition consists of The Democratic Party 더불어민주당 (center-left), The Peoples Party 국민의당 (center-right), The Justice Party 정의당 (left), The Christian Liberal Party 기독자유당 (right), and the Liberal party 민주당 (center-left). Together these parties are often referred to as 야당 “The opposition”. When referring to all of the parties, Koreans usually use the combined word 여야.

Korean newspapers very often use Hanja (Chinese characters) when writing about politics. If you have ever browsed the headlines on Naver news and found yourself puzzled by the characters, 與 and 野 or in combination 與野, they refer to the ruling party and the opposition respectively.

Today is a perfect chance to learn some related vocabulary so here’s a list of useful election-related words in Korean:

당 political party

투표/투표자 vote/voter

투표율 voter turnout

공휴일 public holiday

선거 election

국회 의원 member of the national assembly

대통령 president

후보 candidate

총선 general election

민주주의 democracy

I’ll end this post with a final word of caution. Do not ever ask Koreans about their political views! When I once asked my language partner about his views on some political issue he looked extremely surprised and almost instantly began educating me on how this is certainly not an acceptable question in a Korean context. I must have looked completely dumbfounded, because he then grinningly told me that he’d of course answer since we’re close friends but that I must never speak like that in front of anyone else. Well, the lesson has been learned and now also passed on lest anyone out there make the same mistake.

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