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Opposition party pushes to lower voting age to 18

The main opposition Democratic Party of Korea on Tuesday declared a legislative push to lower the minimum voting age to 18, effective from this year’s presidential election.
Rep. Woo Sang-ho (Yonhap)
Rep. Woo Sang-ho (Yonhap)
“We shall lower the voting age to 18 before the next presidential election. Among OECD member states, Korea is the only nation stipulating voting rights at 19,” floor leader Rep. Woo Sang-ho said in a party meeting. 

The liberal party, the largest in South Korea’s unicameral parliament controlling 128 of the 300 seats, will push to revise the election law to lower the age limit and grant voting rights to compatriots living overseas, he said.

Currently, 33 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development grant suffrage to those 18 years and older, with Austria at the age of 16.

Several bills intended at grating suffrage to 18-year-olds are pending at the National Assembly, proposed by opposition lawmakers. Previous attempts to lower the age fell through due to the opposition from the conservative ruling party. Recent polls show a deepening political divide of South Korean voters, with the young leaning left and the old leaning right. 

“It is embarrassing that those 18-year-olds are not granted voting rights in a country where massive candlelight vigils are held in such a peaceful manner. Those opposing the bill are opposing the calls of the citizens,” Woo added. 

For overseas residents, the party insisted on advancing the introduction of an overseas voting system, scheduled for 2018, to this year‘s presidential election.  

The upcoming presidential election could take place earlier than the scheduled date in December, depending on the outcome of the impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye, which kicked off Tuesday. If the Constitutional Court finalizes her ouster, the nation has to elect a new leader in two months. 

By Jo He-rim (
Korea Herald Youtube