The Role of Young People and Internet in 2002 South Korean Presidential Election Essay

The Role of Young People and Internet in 2002 South Korean Presidential Election


The latent of the internet and its related technologies such as blogs, newsgroups, wikis and websites as means for political transformation has been broadly debated in the previous decade. Such concern emerges as no shock if the effect of the internet on other spheres of culture and society is considered such as e-commerce and entertainment. Most early approximations were optimistic because of the multidimensional aspect of the web and the probability for unlimited flow of data. Nonetheless, some people have been unconvinced concerning the probable effect of the web. Some have often suggested that the web can be detrimental for democracy. The 2002 presidential elections in South Korea provide overwhelming insights into the interaction between politics and the internet. President Roh historic triumph in the election is widely seen as the case of the first internet president (Lee et al, 2002). South Korea’s exceptional recipe of being the most wired nation in the globe, together with its comparatively diminutive history record of democracy, makes this nation an interesting case. In essence, the internet enhances democracy, providing both external and internal ways for people to engage in political processes. Internally, it increases civil consciousness for political processes, while externally offering a path for citizens to interact and air their voices

Generational Change

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

The South Korean administration has realized significant accomplishments in creating knowledge-based networks of information throughout the country, interlinking business, media and government. Despite the speedy improvement of the web usage, its opinionated influence on Korean community is not very strong. According to a survey carried out by Hara and Jo (2007) the political usage of the web isn’t the major purpose of its use. Among the South Koreans, seventy six percent, seventy three percent and forty four percent used internet for mail, information search and games respectively. On one hand, the results failed to offer proof that the web played a pivotal role as other campaign approaches or conventional media in voter’s mobilization and the dispatch of data during presidential elections. In 2002 presidential elections, Roh an unpopular politician won the 2002 campaign. On the other hand both domestic and foreign media characterized the elections as an internet based election. They asserted that the electoral process could be named a generational change as individuals aged twenties and thirties were capable of uniting via the internet, distinct from their older generation. Moreover, news media indicated that Roh was successful in mustering his backers in cyberspace. Consequently, a clash of generational voting sequences and generations grounded on the web publicity dominated the 2002 election, while other conventional political aspects including regionalism didn’t have influence in remodeling the political surrounding during the period of elections.

Online Campaigns

In recent times on-line publicities have offset the elections, stirred many into political protests and pushed government policies. According to Park, and Wan (2008) the political usage of the web in South Korea created an enormous impact on the presidential elections. Historically, elections in South Korea were determined by regional voting rather than age groups. Thus, the role of generational loyalties in presidential elections was a drastic development. Roh’s campaign team utilized the web to absorb huge numbers of voters through messages placed on websites that featured audio broadcasts and vide clips by rock stars and disc jockeys. Millions of electorates visited political websites on a daily basis to access campaign updates or donate funds. Through internet, President Roh, managed to reach out to electorates with refined internet campaigns and most of the younger generation voted in favor of him.

According to Min (2003) the internet made the election more informative and intellectual. The active voters and citizens were empowered and the presidential elections in South Korea indicated the political probability of the web to the degree that even typical electorates experienced it.

Critical Function

It is widely acknowledged that the internet performed a critical function in the 2002 presidential elections (Kang and Dyson 2007). Most overseas media houses reported the outstanding success of President Roh. He was formerly perceived as a political maverick and novice, and is pre-eminence to become a candidate in the presidential elections was marked with hardship and difficulty. Even his political party showed misgivings as to whether he comprised a practicable candidate. Nonetheless, for the young people, Roh was widely viewed as a political revolutionary and an anti-establishment. In the 2002 election, attention was accorded to the generational divide between the age category of twenty to forty years and the older (Hara and Jo, 2007). Some people believed that the younger age bracket had dominated the Korean Society, efficiently substituting the aged generation as the main player in the era of internet.

Internet Forums and Groups

The most influential factor in Roh’s conquest is the support movement and political club called Rohsamo. This association was formed following the outcome of his defeat in the 200 election campaigns for national assembly. The group started as a straightforward forum debate backing Roh’s bit at political change, but before long developed to be an autonomous club with the objective of backing Roh’s political dream. The most notable feature of this association was that it was basically a movement grounded on an internet presence. Within no time it expanded to have an occurrence in offline situations as well, however, most of its functions remained on the internet. While the organization didn’t begin with straightforward aim of nominating Roh to power, it offered critical support backing for him in periods of political crisis. After its preliminary inauguration, the association remained relatively dormant for a short time, but bout of activities started when the primaries began. As Roh was by then a relatively mysterious, with no factional backup or conventional party framework, support from the group confirmed to be a helpful resource. From its original connection of nearly seven thousand, the figure of affiliates expanded to forty nine thousand in 2002. All through the primaries, the group offered organized backing typically held in reserve for a runner who is well networked.  with the various party factions. Rohsamo used the web and the association’s discussion as network of communication amongst its affiliates, and united its affiliates to hearten people to get involved in the presidential primaries. Moreover, some affiliates of Rohsamo took part offline meetings and rallies and assisted arrange them.  Some Rohsamo affiliates authored notes; the sole permitted ways of political publicizing allowed top members of Electoral College. All runners had similar groups, nonetheless, they weren’t as effectual as Rohsamo because the opinionated picture of their runners did not conform to the principles of the young people.

Participation in Fundraising Activities

The degree of voluntarism was probably solely possible due to the ability to attain the ideal of all-inclusive democracy via the internet. The degree of interest shown by its affiliates was unmistakable in their letters on the unrestricted discussions on the web; their feeling of cognitive liberation and self-efficacy was among their propelling forces. This internet association also served as machine for fundraising, which was an extra great backing for a runner such as Roh, who didn’t possess much cash to execute a political campaign. The group was able to raise roughly seven hundred thousand dollars within a period of seven days, when the monetary capability of Roh’s candidacy was at risk due to domestic party politics (Kang and Dyson, 2007). It is thought that Roh’s campaign team raised nearly six thousand dollars from two hundred thousand people via the internet.

Role of Media News

Another significant feature of the internet’s role on presidential election as well as on Korean politics is the influence of news media provided online illustrated by internet sites including Ohmynews. Conventionally, media houses have been major players in political matters (Kuhn, 2003). During the period of dictatorial military administration, the print media positioned itself against the administration and its autocratic tendencies. However, in modern times, the major media print media have become authoritative in their own capacity and started to stand for their own concerns more. This was an enormous problem, particularly in 2002 elections since major papers portrayed a biased position against minority and liberal parties, a trend which positioned Roh publicity at a great disadvantage (Kuhn, 2003). Due to the continuous power battle between the political parties and the media, young people became disillusioned and started to search for other sources of data. The internet quickly closed this divide and became a practicable substitute source of information.

Increased Participation

Online media news has affected Korean election in numerous ways.  It offered a substitute source for younger people who were disappointed with the prejudiced reporting of conventional media. Sites such as ohmynews were capable of reporting on the events which the conventional media generally disregarded. It offered ordinary individuals with a podium for online discussion, by offering active response and interface with its visitors. The authority of the news service provided online proved itself entirely during the 2002 elections (Walker and Kang, 2002). Unlike conventional media, which only offered blotchy coverage of the issues of the election, online media including ohmynews offered non-stop text and video coverage of the proceedings and its visitors closely watched the results of the election and punctually acted on it, assembling last minute recruitment using text messages and email. The coverage of elections fundamentally put presidential candidates on center stage.

Appealing to Young People

The on-line publicities failed to succeed in attracting young people into the electoral process. While the rates of turn out of 2002 elections were nearly seventy percent, only forty seven percent of electorates in their early twenties engaged in the vote (Seongyi 2003). The disparity of the voter’s turnout between the typical electorate and those in twenties was broadened from twelve percent in the previous election to twenty three percent in the subsequent election (Seongyi, 2003). The normative thesis stipulates that those who are interested and participate in political activities are more prone to proceed and locate additional data on the internet, thus attracting them into a vicious circle of engagement. This implies that the internet has a limit in creating novel political engagement. However, Roh’s victory of youth electorates may be viewed as the impact of the internet. Prior to the 2002 elections, approximately ninety percent and seventy percent of individuals in their 20s and 30s respectively utilized the web (Seongyi, 2003). Roh was triumphant in attracting young electorate to his online campaign sites and mustering them in the physical world and cyberspace. Even though the use of internet might have failed to establish novel political engagement amongst young people, it was largely successful in creating netizen support and attention.

Even if there is no correlation between the impact of internet and Roh’s success, it certain that the runner was capable of gathering the backing of young electorate and in that way take the scheme in the battle stage. Television ads reviewed his lowbrow image and youthfulness and these video images were retrieved almost four hundred and fifty thousand times from the internet (Min, 2003). Through internet use, Roh triumphed in turning the elections a race between old politicians and new politicians. The internet approach was finally triumphant in attracting to young people’s emotional and cultural sensibilities.

Internet offers voters a more diverse and transparent source of data about elections and candidates and as a result significantly enhances the likelihood of voting. (Lee, 2007) Supports this notion, stressing on the web’s potential to promote the political bustle of those likely to be disconnected from offline type of politics. Although it may be difficult to prove the impact of the web on elections, it is apparent that many political parties utilized the internet to drum up support during presidential elections in South Korea.   One major query is whether internet usage increased voter turnout during the presidential elections. Certainly, conventional behavioral principles of political engagement believe that voter turnout is impacted by age, gender, income and education as well as changes in technology (Lee, 2007).

It is hard to demonstrate empirically that internet publicity improved young people’s political participation and patterns of voting. According to (Kang and Dyson, 2007) the rate of turnout for voters aged above forty years was quite higher compared to the percentage of electorates in their early twenties and late thirties. While fifty six percent and sixty seven percent of electorates in their twenties and thirties respectively participated in the elections, over seventy five percent of older electorates voted in the election (Kang and Dyson, 2007). This can be attributed to a lack of concern and an intuition that election wouldn’t bring any new change in actual politics. But Roh won in obtaining a majority of young people because of the triumphant online campaign approach and political usage of the web. The attributes of 2002 elections was a generational pattern of voting and the internet performed a critical function in improving the support for presidential runners.

Regional Patterns

 Nevertheless, the notion of increased political engagement is discarded by regional patterns of voting in the elections. The divisive and difficult nature of regionalism in the nation emanates from a political and historical tension between Cholla and Gyeongsang provinces (Rhee, 2003). The anxiety between the two regions has most of the times been mirrored in the patterns of voting of nationwide elections since the country was democratized in 1987 (Hara and Jo, 2007). While leftist or liberal political affiliations naturally obtain a mainstream in Cholla province, conservatives won in Gyongsang.  The presidential elections proved the normal voting pattern experienced in South Korea.  Even if Roh attained almost fifty six percent of total votes of those in their 20s countrywide, the backing of 20s for Roh declined to thirty percent in Gyeongsang province (Hara and Jo, 2007). These findings strongly dispute the contention that generational patterns of voting characterized the results of 2002 presidential election. It is a fact that most of young people visited Roh’s sites and interacted with other individuals backing during the elections. The verity is inadequate to illustrate that Roh was triumphant in mustering novel political participation of young people, although he did well in attracting the attention of young people to reformist and liberal issues via internet. At least, the results of the voter’s turnout during 2002 elections imply that increased online political involvement doesn’t most of the time lead to a similar level of actual political participation in elections.

            Generally, most young people voted for the winner of the elections than opponent candidate. Although the regional splitting up played an integral function in the elections, the younger ballot, shaped by the web, may have eventually upset the balance in favor of the winner. The lightning and immediacy rapid responses provided by the web during the election period, including online discussion and deliberations created by online groups and news, appear to have established notable political persuasion on the young people which spilled over into off-line practice and performed a big role in the real elections. In the instance of online groups, the internet offered a novel form of election campaign vehicle different from conventional campaigning modes.


It is apparent that internet has affected politics within a short time The various claims concerning the internet’s impact on 2002 elections in South Korea are frequently indefinite. The data of voter’s turnout reveals that the real impact of the web is far much less. Yet it would not be true to conclude that the internet did not play a significant role in 2002 elections.  The impact of other forms of media on politics has been profound and the potential of internet cannot be overlooked given its diminutive history. As the older populace is substituted with those who function contentedly with contemporary technology, the role of internet is probable to increase on politics. Its role in presidential elections obviously portrays the capability of this medium, specifically in relation to rapid communication and mobilization of voters. The Korean Case backs the likelihood of the technology being used to extend the values of legitimate democracy as well as increasing political engagement in political processes.


Hara, N. and Jo, Y. (2007).  Internet Politics: A comparative analysis of U.S and South Korea

Presidential campaigns. Retrieved July 21, 2009 from

Kang, D. and Dyson, L. (2007). Internet Politics in South Korea: The Case of Rohsamo

and Ohmynews. Retrieved July 21, 2009 from

Lee, H. et al. (2002). Korean presidential campaign and the United states presidential

campaign advertising model.  American Academy of Advertising Conference Proceedings, 29-30.

Lee, Y. (2007). Movement Legacies and Online Mobilization. Retrieved July 21, 2009


 Seongyi, Y. (2003) The internet and the 2002 presidential election in South Korea.

Korea Journal, 210-229.

Kuhn, H. (2003). The 2002 presidential election and Media Politics. Korea Journal, 173-


Min, Y. (2003).  An analysis of cyber-electioneering: Focusing on the 2002 presidential

election in Korea. Korea Journal, 142-163.

Rhee, I. (2003).  The Korean Election Shows a Shift in Media Power. Nieman Reports,

Spring, 57(1), 95-95.

Park, Lee and Wan, H. (2008). The Readjustment of E-Campaign Practices: A Case

Study of the Korean presidential election of 2007. Conference Papers — International Communication Association, Annual Meeting, 1-19.

Walker, S. and Kang, K. (2002). The Presidential Election in South Korea. Retrieved

July 21, 2009 from