The general election is just around the corner. Everywhere, people are stressing how important it is for young people to vote. It is not a surprise to hear this, since it is a well known fact that the voting rate among 20’s is lower than any other age groups. For the last, 19th general election, the turnout of people in their 20’s was 45.4 percent, which was still higher than that of the previous general election, 32.9 percent.
However, the low turnout is not the only problem. Another issue is the small number of young politicians. The average age of the members of the 19th National Assembly is 57.4. Members from the Saenuri Party and The Minjoo Party are 58.4 and 56.1 years old respectively. This means that young politicians go through a very hard time to be nominated to run. In fact, they have expressed the hardships they go through; being disregarded and coming up against the great wall built by the older members. This prevents the young politicians to communicate with the older members solely because of their young age. With this tendency toward a low number of young politicians, in a long term, we, the young, can lose our voice, which is directly related to our well-being.
Then how should we begin to solve this matter? I believe the answer can be found from the case of Western countries. Last year, a 31-year-old Education Minister began working in Sweden. Moreover, a 40-year-old Prime Minister was elected in Canada. This was possible because of the open-minded attitude towards young politicians by the parties. Unlike the case of Korea, they earn opportunities to build hands-on experience and become full-grown politicians.
Parties in Korea love to exclaim the words “Innovation” and “Reformation” during election time. Yet, it is still doubtful whether they know the true meaning of such ideas. It almost seems like they use these terms only to gain votes from the young. The illness the society has been suffering for a long time is the conflict between the older and younger generations. Breaking the prejudice that the older and young generations have on each other, is the very first step to begin in order to break the wall and bring youth-friendly political environment.
Seo-yeon Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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