본교 국제교육원 닐 암스트롱 교수의 글이 코리아 헤렐드에 실렸습니다. 실린 글 링크는 http://www.koreaherald.com/opinion/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20100602000088입니다. 구성원 여러분들의 많은 관심 바랍니다.
Amidst the buzz of contemporary campaigning methods -- the Facebook “friends’’ contacts and the SMS interruptions -- the political campaign poster is still a central method. Especially in South Korea. “Sign” would perhaps be the more appropriate way of describing what these high-slung flapping sheets actually are.
The first I saw go up in Masan was a ruling party member’s image of himself superimposed on a view of the city taking in the sea and the mountains. It blocked out about 16 windows of a currently unused black-glass-fronted five-story building situated on prime political campaigning real estate at the busy intersection in front of Kyungnam University. It went up weeks ago.
And then, gradually, as his competitors came into view with their 16-tooth visible smiles roped up on nearby structures, the candidate made a radical political statement. He doubled the size of his poster. He promised “Forever With Park Geun-hye!” and, whatever else he asserts, has a legitimate claim to having displayed the largest No. 8 ever publicly seen in the city. His No. 7 rival for mayor of Masan then erected the whitest smile ever seen outside of heaven alongside the slogan, “The People First over the Political Parties.” So his competitor responded in the only way he knew how. He put up another poster.
Given that the candidates’ visual presentation of themselves was somewhat similar -- shirt, tie, suit, hair-perfectly-groomed side-parting (and all that applies to the female candidates as well) -- it was the slogans which did all the talking. A candidate for chief regional education officer threatened, “A Repeat Election Is Not Possible! I Am the Right Answer!”
While his rival for the post used the established method of removing his exalted self from the gutter of the political process by announcing sovietically, “The Election to Chief Education Officer Has Nothing to Do with the Parties.”
Back in the mayoral race another office-seeker implied that all the other candidates were filthy and incapable when he stated, “If You Pick Me It’s Different. A Clean Administrator and an Able Mayor.” But he had demonstrated his own incapability in one respect: He forgot to use exclamation marks.
His opposition party rival candidate efficiently squeezed two in: “Exciting Change! Dynamic City!” and reinforced his pledge, like all candidates, with teeth so white they look like they’d never been used.
Meanwhile, the No. 9 candidate promised, “I Will Work Harder,” apparently conceding that he hasn’t been working all that hard up to now or imagining that he might have some trouble should he actually win.
But these competitors have competitors. And they are the other everyday-life four-meter-long oblong signs that link up the pylons like kids holding both parents’ hands. They are similar to the political signs in almost every respect.
Last week as I waited to cross the road, I was studying a candidate’s self-advertisement. Only when the red man turned to green did I realize that this face on the sign was proudly promoting the founding of his new English language institute and wasn’t running for office at all.
If voters in South Korea were obliged to write their preferred candidate’s name on the ballot, it would not be impossible, with the personalization of business-naming such as it is, for the owner of a new dental clinic to unexpectedly get the call to publicly serve.
The candidates were visible in person, too. One office-seeker trucked around the area in a perpetual loop forcefully intoning the seriousness of his pledges to the backdrop of karaoke. Another was to be seen deep-bowing passing six-year-old Kias at early morning rush hour in a scene which, from a distance, made it look as if machine had finally got the upper hand over man in the battle for respect.
Elsewhere a troop of volunteers in red T-shirts and outsized conical hats marched past a convenience store looking like toy town grenadier guards without attracting a passing glance.
Not all volunteers were entirely comfortable with their role, however. I walked through a dozen discomfited 50-something males outside a supermarket who were rhythmically rotating candidate cards in time with Brown-Eyed Girl. I’ll miss those guys.
But not the poster signs. One candidate had a giant green bus which he sometimes left parked on the intersection with the engine running. Perhaps it was idling because one his own posters was obstructing progress.
By N.B. Armstrong
N.B. Armstrong lectures at Kyungnam University in Masan, South Gyeongsang Province. -- Ed.