In Wednesday's election, South Koreans seek something new
April 11, 2012 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
- South Koreans hold parliamentary election on Wednesday
- As underdogs gain in popularity, major parties are panicking
- Candidates, policies and party names are all being changed
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- With a new corruption scandal emerging regularly, South Koreans appear to be turning away from traditional political parties and toward the unaffiliated underdog. In response, the major parties are panicking, changing their candidates, their policies and even their names in preparation for Wednesday's parliamentary election.
The mayor of the capital city of Seoul is an example. With no political ties and no political experience, Park Won-soon made an unlikely mayor.
His election last November to the second most powerful position in the country taught seasoned observers that people here were tired of traditional politics.
"I think they really want their voice be heard," he said. "The professional politicians were always saying they were hearing the voice of the people during the campaign period, but after that they are forgetting everything."
Since assuming office, Park himself has become political, joining the opposition Democratic United Party.
The stakes are high. President Lee Myung-bak stands to lose control of parliament this week if his party doesn't win.
Recently, it changed its name to Saenuri, which means New Frontier Party, in an attempt to show voters that the party, which had been stung by a string of corruption scandals, has changed.
The most recent scandal broke last week and is being dubbed by local media "Korea's Watergate." Allegations have surfaced that the government illegally tapped phones and monitored civilians and politicians between 2008 and 2010. But the government has countered that much of the spying was done by the previous administration, which was led by the opposition.
"I would say Korean democracy has not been mature, has not been fully institutionalized," said Chung-in Moon, a professor at Yonsei University and a former adviser on international security to the previous South Korean president.
In an attempt to spark voter interest, the election commission has hung posters of the candidates along a stream in central Seoul and declared Wednesday to be a public holiday, but Korean news media were still predicting a low voter turnout: in other words, a protest vote.
Defector hopes to become first North Korean in South Korean parliament
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories