The politics of dancing (originally posted 26 May 06)

Friday, March 14, 2008

When Korean people do something, they do it ALL THE WAY. This applies to working, drinking, eating, protesting, and -- the latest development -- politicking. Local elections across the country will be held on May 31st. (I'm glad I won't be around for any national elections.)

It started out somewhat slowly, about a month ago. Huge posters began appearing on buildings all over town: headshots of men in suits between five and ten feet high. I noticed similar-looking men wandering around at bus stops, grocery stores, even on the city bus, talking to people and shaking hands. (I haven't seen any baby kissing, though.) Then last weekend, the real fun began. When I went to E-Mart, there were groups of young people clad in matching brightly colored t-shirts, dancing and cheering on the sidewalk in front of the store. Across the street there were trucks with huge banners (again the headshots), playing very loud music. One of my friends said the same scene occured in front of her apartment building. She could barely get in.

Within the past weeks, these campaign trucks have been everywhere. They just park on the sidewalk and start blasting music. Because it's warm and we keep the window open, we can hear speeches, cheering and music coming from near the beach, beginning fairly early in the morning. Luckily, the madness should end on Wednesday, and we have the day off.

The public schools are closed, so many of the foreign teachers convinced the hagwon owners to close as well. It's only fair, considering that all the hagwons in town were open on Teacher's Day, even though the public schools were closed. (Apparently, we're not real teachers. I did get some sweet gifts from kids, though.)


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