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South Korea’s Image Election

by Scott A. Snyder
December 14, 2012

South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party's presidential candidate Park Geun-hye and election campaigners of the party attend her campaign in Seoul. (Lee Jae-won/courtesy Reuters) South Korea's ruling Saenuri Party's presidential candidate Park Geun-hye and election campaigners of the party attend her campaign in Seoul. (Lee Jae-won/courtesy Reuters)

Both of South Korea’s major candidates in the December 19 presidential election, ruling party candidate Park Geun-hye and opposition party candidate Moon Jae-in, have crafted overlapping platforms as they compete for the center of the Korean electorate. Although Park has held the front-runner status for weeks, the polls are also converging, making this likely to be one of South Korea’s closest elections ever. This convergence of platforms and polls has elevated image as a primary factor influencing South Korean voter choice.  I argue in a piece for CNN GPS that Park’s image, including both her political legacy as daughter of authoritarian leader Park Chung-hee and her carefully cultivated image as a player in South Korea’s democratic era, will prove to be the dominant factor that influences voter choice.

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