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Monday,August 26,2019
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Call to Lower Voting Age

In responsive to the general election on April 15th,  Koreas' interest in politics has increased. Especially, voting among undergraduates, who in the past  have been considered as indifferent is important out. Some undergraduates are active in organizing absentee voters on campuses and in taking part in blackballing campaign. As the matter stands now, more and more voices are calling for a lower voting age.
 Here are the pros and cons of a lower voting age.......Ed.

Voices supporting a lower age
 Nearly ninety countries permit people to vote at nineteen. And fifteen countries enfranchise people at eighteen. Less than twenty countries including Tunisia, Kuwait, Japan and Korea prescribed the voting age at twenty.
 Even though the Korean government imposes several national obligations on seventeen years olds, it does not give them full and proper rights. Let's imagine a situation: Here is a  nineteen-year-old guy who serves in the army; before being in the army he worked at a company. He is doing his military obligation and must pay taxes, too. But he doesn't have the right of suffrage a fundamental right adulthood.
 The Central Election Management Committee permits nineteen year olds to be an electioneering agents, but,  ironically, they can't vote in an election.
At seventeen's you can volunteer for military service, and at eighteen you can obtain a driver's license, be appointed as an official and get married.
 We can conclude that 18- or 19-year-old people can make their own political decision regarding educational degree, new phase of democratized society, the growth of nation's economy, guaranteed freedom of speech, and advance of media.     
The purpose of prescribed legal capacity in the civil code is to give protection to people who are legally incompetent and especially in matters requiring contracts. But, the voting age requirement means just limiting ones participation in politics. There is no need for a legal capacity in the civil law to correspond with the voting age.
 Lowering the voting age would enfranchise 800,000 potential voters and boost young people’s participation in the political process. their influence would be reflected in the National Assembly, too. Hereupon more new politicians would enter the political process

Voices against lowering the voting age                 The voting age is already legally fixed in the civil code; "Adult age is from twenty."
A constitutional lawsuit, insisting that it is  unconstitutional to set the voting age to over twenty was rejected by the Constitutional Court the late 2003. The judges concluded that anyone twenty or under is mentally and physically immature. And the judges also stated this age group is easily influenced by parents when they make political decisions.
To enfranchise this age group could mean their voted were influenced by negative views. Stiffened and standardized circumstance of Korean high schools don't educate them to have the critical power and ability to make autonomous decisions. After finishing high school, they will be exposed to comparatively liberated society. In their new surroundings, they go through difficulties. How can they be to form a new, expected identity and make careful judgements as members of a democratic society.
Stipulating the voting age is a discretionary authority of lawmakers. They can limit people's participation in politics in the name of lawmakers. We should recognize that existing voting age is set by discretionary authority of lawmakers. It is not unconstitutional.

According to a recent poll, 67.5% of lawmakers think that the voting age should be lowered to nineteen. It shows that lowering the voting age is an option even among lawmakers.
To lower the voting age, we need time to re-regulate the general criterion of adulthood in the civil code. Lowering the voting age constitutionally may take a long time, but it should be done to encourage more people to join the political process.

Interview
 Jo Hyun-gyung is a student commissioner of Seoul  Chapter of Democratic Labor Party.
The Post: What are undergraduates doing to lower the voting age?
Jo: We have been launching various movements since the latter half of last year. We filed a constitutional lawsuit, held a press conference, and campaigned to obtain signatures. We are scheduled to present a petition to the National Assembly for lowering the age regulation on eligibility for election. And also we are planing a constitutional lawsuit about this problem.
The Post: What do you think about the existing voting age?
Jo: If the government doesn't give suffrage to young undergraduates, it may cause them to be indifferent  about politics.
The Post: What advice do you have for undergraduates?
Jo: Do not give up your democratic right up, to the ballot box.  Your vote can lead to a new and clean politics. Never give it up! 

Caption
 Members of a undergraduates group gathered a protest  rally in front of the National Assembly in Yoido, Seoul, February, urging the government to lower the nation’s voting age ahead of the April 15 general elections.

Kim Hyun-ah  kimyang@dongguk.edu

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