Wednesday December 19th is the biggest day of the South Korean political year as millions of Korean cast their votes in the Presidential Election. Unlike previous Korean elections and last weekends Japanese election, this is the very tight  run race.

South Korean Flag

This the 18th Presidential Election which Korea has held in its relatively short democratic history, the first was back in 1948. However often there was only one candidate such as in 1963 after the military coup in 1961 which saw Park Chung-Hee gain power for 18 years.  There was also 4 elections within 4 years between 1978 and 1982, due to assassinations and coups. Recent internal South Korean history has been calmer.

In South Korea a first-past-the-post system is used, and so the candidate with the most votes will become the next president.

The Main Candidates

Park Geun Hye

Park Geun Hye (박근혜) is the candidate for the ruling Saenuri Party (Red or 1). She is the daughter of former South Korean President Park Chung-Hee who ruled from 1961 until his death in 1979. She is an electrical engineering graduate from Sogang University.

She is popular with older generations of Korean but unpopular with younger voters. Most negativity and positivity is related to her late father who although brought strong economic stability he also came to power as a result of the military coup and killed many people who disagreed with his policy’s.

Park Geun Hye Supporters
Park Geun Hye Supporters
Park Geun Hye Support Van
Park Geun Hye Support Van

Moon Jae In

Moon Jae In is the candidate for the opposing Democratic United Party (Yellow or 2). Is a former Human Rights Attorney turned politician.

The Busan born 59 year old is seen by many as the peoples choice and has been described as a moderate and rational leader. He is the son of a North Korean refugee. He previously served as chief of staff to former president is late Roh Moo-hyun. Also Moon Jae in was jailed in the 1970s for protesting against Park Chung-hee’s administration.

The Other (3rd Party) Candidates

Korean Presidential Election 2012 Poster

Each of candidates are listed with their unique voting number. Sadly apart from a short bio I don’t know much else about these candidates.

  • (4) Park Jong Sun (Independent), is a 73 year old Human rights lawyer and former five-term lawmaker who first took offer in 1973. He previously ran for the South Korean Presidency in 1992. In regards to North Korea he stated that South Korea should induce internal collapse of North Korea through policies of neglect and isolation. (More Information from the Korean Herald)
  • (5) Kim So Yeon (Independent), is a supporter of trade unions and has called for the abolishment of pro-conglomerate policies.
  • (6) Kang Ji Won (Independent), is a 62 year old former public prosecutor, activist and government commissioner. He made minor headlines when he boycotted a live TV debate in protest of unequal participation of all candidates in TV debates. (More Information from the Korean Herald)

Jang Ji Won Korean Election 2012

  • (7) Kim Soon Ja (Independent), a former cleaner turned politician who has promised to eliminate all non regular working positions and create eight-point-seven million jobs by reducing working hours to 35 hours per week.


  • (3) Lee Jang Hee was the candidate for the left wing Unified Progressive Party, however she withdraw from the presidential race this past Sunday. The reasons behind her withdrawal weren’t clear however she did state her opposition for Park Geun Hye and the Saenuri Party (More Information Yonhap News Article)


Official Results of the 18th South Korean Presidential Election:

Park Geun Hye (박근혜): 51.5% / 15,773,128
Moon Jae In (문재인): 48% / 14,692,632

Kang Ji Won (강지원): 0.17% / 53,303
Kim Soon Ja (김순자): 0.15% / 46,017
Kim So Yeon (김소연): 0.05% / 16,687
Park Jong Sun (박종선): 0.04% / 12,854

Source: National Election Commission of South Korea

More Information

For more information check out these Korean English Language News Centers:

Thank you for your interest in learning a little about the upcoming election and if you have any comments or questions please leave them below.

Modern Seoul Magazine

modern seoul magazine summer logo