the campaigning has ended. the posters are coming down and the rallies are over. today was presidential election day.  south korea elects a new president every five years, s/he may serve only one term.

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voting is quite civilized and easy. there was just one decision for voters to make at a nearby voting location. my husband only had to walk 20 meters from our place. the wait on line was less than 5 minutes even during the lunchtime crush. volunteers of all ages staffed each location: from teenagers who directed you how to enter and leave to middle aged men and women who checked your ID and collected ballots. another bonus, it’s an unofficial “red day”~ calendar holidays. small to mid-sized stores were closed in observance of the election and employers cannot force attendance today. voter turn-out was over 63% of the population…much higher than american elections.

interestingly in this land of high technology, they use prehistoric paper ballots and dojang (도장). here you can pay for things with coins, bills, cashier check (수표), credit card, your hand phone or direct bank deposit (입금). yet, when it comes to something this important, old and new are combined ~ paper ballots are counted by machines beginning at 6pm with 70% tallied by 9pm…it’s the fastest paper tally in the world.

and the winner is myung-bak lee (이명박), who could easily pass for the korean marilyn manson…

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