|Ballot boxes are placed at a counting station in Seoul, Wednesday, for vote counting in Seoul's mayoral by-election. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
By Bahk Eun-ji
People in their 20s and 30s, who are usually thought of as favoring liberal parties, turned away from the ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) in Wednesday's Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections, with a majority of them selecting candidates from the main opposition People Power Party (PPP).
In Seoul, the conservative PPP candidate Oh Se-hoon beat his DPK rival Park Young-sun in all 25 districts, contrary to the 2018 local elections where then DPK candidate Park Won-soon gained more support than his rival in 22 of them for his reelection.
Oh obtained 57.5 percent of votes to Park Young-sun's 39.18 percent in the final results released by the National Election Commission, Thursday.
According to an exit poll released by the three broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS, Wednesday, Oh led Park in all age groups except for those in their 40s.
Specifically over half of people in their 20s and 30s supported the conservative party: 55.3 percent of people in their 20s voted for Oh while 34.1 percent supported Park; among people in their 30s, 56.5 percent picked Oh and 38.7 percent voted for Park.
The support for Oh among men in their 20s reached 72.5 percent, even higher than the 70.2 percent support rate from men in their 60s and over, who usually show the most conservative inclinations.
The situation was similar in Busan where Park Heong-joon of the PPP beat Kim Young-choon of the DPK, 62.67 percent to 34.42 percent.
More than 51 percent of Busan citizens in their 20s voted for Park compared to 40.7 percent for Kim; and 50.7 percent of those in their 30s supported Park to Kim's 44.4 percent.
Political analysts attributed the results to the accumulated anger felt by those in their 20s and 30s against the Moon Jae-in administration. They say a series of corruption scandals involving ruling party and government figures gave the impression that the ruling bloc was disregarding issues of fairness, an especially sensitive issue to the younger generations in comparison to other age groups.
What exacerbated the anger even more was the land speculation scandal involving employees of the Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH), which broke just weeks before the election. As the LH workers allegedly made or attempted to make unfair speculative profits from land purchases made using inside information, the scandal caused a sense of deprivation among young people.