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What We Have to Learn from the Accused
Kang Su-yeon  |  nankang@hanyang.ac.kr
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[0호] 승인 2008.03.01  
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There is a meaningful, minor figure. According to an official announcement from the National Election Commision, 96,756 (0.4 percent of the voting rate) is the number of votes polled for candidate number eight in the 17th Republic of Korea presidential election. Who is this? He was a candidate who brought a huge syndrome within this country; Huh Kyung-young from the Economic Republican Party(ERP) inwhich he has been reappointed as the chief. Mr. Huh made as many issues as Lee Myung-bak, the elected candidate did. However, he was prosecuted for libel and for violating election laws on January 22. According to the official announcement of the prosecution, he was arrested on suspicions of spreading rumors related to Park Geun-hye, the former head of the Great National Party and making exaggerated public propaganda in a free paper. He was ordered to be jailed because he might destroy evidence during the investigation. Actually, his popularity is very exclusive. The ERP is not a major party in where the two-party system dominates. Also, Huh Kyung-young was not a main candidate. The frequency of exposure through mainstream media was very low. Lee Dong-jin, a spokesman for the ERP said, Throughout the election, Mr. Huh participated in only one official debate and one official speech. We paid the same trust money of 500 million won like the other candidates. However, the election laws gives many chances to appear on television to only the people who get a five percent supporting rate. Our minor candidatesofficial television debate was from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on December 14, 2007 when the absentee voting ended already at 13. The Korean media does not offer sufficient opportunities for minor candidates to speak. Even though he got huge attention exclusively, the people who were at fever pitch towards Mr. Huh did not believe everything Mr. Huh said. Almost everyone treated him as if he were a comedian. Then, at this point when Mr. Huh was arrested and when critical programs like Producers Note (MBC) already dealt with his controversial issues, we have to ask why we were crazy for him even though we already knew that he was a liar. The implication of his candidacy is that Koreans are tired of existing politics and it requires some changes.

 What Makes Him an Internet Star? 
The secret of his popularity can not be explained in one word. The first thing which catches peoples attention is his promises. Such as: move the U.N. headquarters to Panmunjeom (A village on the de facto border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War was signed). Reduce the number of Congress members to 100 and abolish political parties. Relieve unemployment with the Ginseng New Deal Policy. Prohibit making agricultural chemicals. Unify the 36 taxes into two, income tax and one indirect tax. His comments are also interesting. The best comment which made him so popular is that my IQ is 430. He insisted that he met President Bush and Mr. Bush suggested him to become the U.N Secretary General. More surprising things were that he could use seven-league boots and he could levitate. Finally, he also said that he could communicate with aliens. What about his career? Reading his pamphlet, he insists that he was a secret policy aide of former president Park Chung-hee from 1970 to 1979. He also said President Park suggested he marry President Park s daughter Park Geun-hye during that time. Critics said that even though people did not believe all the things he said, it was a problem that non-qualified candidates could run for presidential election. The producer of Producers Note revealed, A more severe thing is that the media focused too much on audience ratings. Because of that, the media casts him and allows him to make appearances on television without thinking it through. Is the Huh Kyung-young syndrome just as negative as they say? Is there not something we have to learn from the reason of his popularity?

   

The Value of His Existence 
The superficial reason of his popularity is simple. He is so quirky. He contrasts with other politicians. Queer, funny, these adjectives do not match with a presidential candidate. A junior who revealed that he actually supported Mr. Huh in the lections said, Even, I feel some intimacy. He did not look like an elite politician. Personally, I think it was a smart strategy. Is it not his policy to promote himself as a minor candidate? Jung Hyang-jin, a special advisor to Mr. Huh also said, We had many difficulties in promoting ourselves. We have to be an issue by any means as minor candidates. Even though most respondents said that they did not trust him and some expressed hostility in the survey, his existence truly affected both politicians and the electorate. Currently, university students are too cynical and indifferent to politics. The voting rate of the latest presidential election hit a new low of 63.7 percent. Mr. Huhs promises attracted interest in this situation and these promises became issues and conversation topics. In short, the value of his existence was that he succeeded in pulling peoples attention to the election. Just as the Great Canal construction was a little controversial which was reported almost everyday in other candidates promises. This kind of promise syndrome should have been from main candidates. The positive reaction to him means vacuum in Korean politics exists. People who supported him were already is appointed and they concluded that it was better to give the Presidency to Mr. Huh than to give it existing politicians. compared with other candidates who focused on only negative electioneering after the BBK scandal broke out, he even looked better in the point of manifest spirit. Kim Chan, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration said, At least, he attracted me to read the promises. 

   Things Remaining Until General Election
The negatives about him also have importance. To voters, laughing at him is laughing at politics. At first, he himself became a laughingstock because he looked funny and ridiculous. However, the laughing spreads to other politicians because his appearance itself already told that the reality of Korean politics. Even an opposition to Huh Kyung-young was revealed in the survey, Actually, I do not think that Mr. Huh is bad. In my opinion, his popularity was the barometer that indicated that our society is on the state of chaos and needs some change. The head of our party will run for office in the next general election even if he is in prison, Spokesman Lee said. Until now, do you criticize the standards of Mr.Huhs supporters? Who made him appear? Who could not make any constructive issues or controversy and make him as a star? The problems we can analogize from Mr. Huhs syndrome are the attitude of huge media to deal with presidential candidates and the politicians unchanged elite sense. The time has been changing. Why you who have power can not change? Listen to the public. Learn to communicate with the public. The answer to the question, Can Mr. Huh continue his strong wind? is up to powerful politicians and media.

 

 

 

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