Voting Age in Korea
Voting Age in Korea
  • 김선화 기자
  • 승인 2019.09.05 09:00
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Why Not 18 Years Old?
[Picture] A man is putting a ballot in a box
[Picture] A man is putting a ballot in a box

Recently, many countries have lowered the election age. In July, the Malaysian parliament unanimously passed a constitutional amendment that would lower the election age from 21 to 18.  The Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, “The younger generation can now gain all sorts of knowledge by reading books, watching movies, and accessing websites. They are mature in their political consciousness earlier. This is the reason that we are lowering the election age.”

In Korea, when you become an 18-year-old, you can drive, marry, get a driver’s license, work, and serve in the military. You can even be placed in the government service. However, you are not allowed to vote.

There are different opinions about lowering the voting age.  People who support current legislation claim that minors are forming political and social perspectives, so their expressions of opinion may be distorted due to lack of experience. Also, high school seniors spend most of their time  preparing for entering university. Because they have to study, they are not interested in politics so voter turnout for their age may be low.

On the other hand, people who support lowering the voting age claim teenagers need to participate in social and political issues. They believe older age does not mean that a person has better political judgement. Young people are active and attend rallies.  They held candle light protests for the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye even though many were high school students.

In fact, the idea of lowering the election age to 18 has been argued consistently by youth and civil society organizations for a long time. All OECD countries except for Korea are eligible to vote at 18 or younger. In the world, among 239 countries, 208 countries give 18 year olds the right to vote.

In July, Lee In-young, the representative of the Democratic Party of Korea, said he would do his best to expand the political participation of young people and would lower the suffrage of youth to 18.

Voting is the most important way for people to practice democracy so to make our democracy better, young adults who are 18 years old should be allowed to vote.


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