Dear eligible voters,
By the time this letter is published, we will have chosen a new president to lead this angry, disillusioned, and divided nation. But regardless of the results of the election, there will be some who will have voted and others who will have abstained from voting.
If you are in the former category, there is not much to say except that I hope you are happy with the outcome. But if you are in the latter group, I am curious as to why you did not vote. As a democratic nation, South Korea operates its government via the voting process. Voting is the only definite, consistent, and fundamental method of participating in the process that determines how the country is run. In other words, you have to vote in order for your opinions to be represented in the laws, policies and regulations that govern your education, employment, military service, etc.
Of course, you may feel that your one vote will not matter in the grand scheme of things, or you may not believe in the political system for various reasons. However, the first argument is demonstrably fallacious since every single vote adds up to become the winning, or losing figure in an election. Funnily enough, numbers and addition work in a way that, literally, every vote counts. You may think that one in millions will not have an effect but that is not how voting works. Voting is a team effort; the fact that there are millions of other people voting is not an accident. It is by design. That is the whole point of a democracy. Your one vote matters because everyone else’s one vote matters. Think carefully about the purpose of voting; you are not the only one who lives in this country. The second argument also holds no weight because within the framework of our current structure, the only way to enact upon any changes is via voting. You can vote for someone who most closely resembles your ideologies, or you can create your own political party and become president by getting the most number of votes. You can even cast a blank vote to let the government know that you are not being represented by any of the available candidates. Either way, you have to be active in the process as a citizen of the country. Sitting around at home and bemoaning the lack of representation in politics without voting or doing anything about it is simply an inexcusable, irresponsible, and lazy attitude towards your country and to yourself.
I understand that it is difficult to spend the effort to become invested in politics when you generally do not have the luxury of time. But voting should not be done solely out of personal interest, passion, or inspiration. Voting is your duty as a citizen while politics is just the grueling spectacle that hides the true mechanisms of government. Although the media presents politics with the fanfare of a sports match, most of the broadcasted material is theatrical and not worth your time. You don’t have to follow the election from start to end and watch all the debates and speeches to vote. You don’t have to be politically inclined to vote. You don’t have to try and find a candidate who is kind-hearted, open-minded, always reliable, lovable, charismatic, meticulous, honest, clever, all-inclusive, brave, generous, gentle, gracious, witty, well-spoken, and perfect. Although it isn’t a bad idea to keep these things in mind, it is too idealistic and shouldn’t be the motivation for voting. You also don’t have to be particularly interested in or inspired by a candidate to vote. You simply have to know which policies and regulations affect you the most and which candidate supports your views on these issues. This can be done with a quick search on the internet. That is all you need to fulfill your duty as an eligible voter: basic literacy and the knowledge to operate a search engine.
By choosing not to vote, you are essentially choosing to step out of the process of forming the government. That means that you are not allowed to complain when the government enforces legislation that you disagree with. You cannot simply ignore your rights that you find annoying — like getting up on an off-day to go vote — while vigorously demanding your rights for free speech, healthcare etc. when you feel that they are being ignored by a system that was put in power while you watched as an apathetic bystander. After the scandalous impeachment of our last president, you should truly be ashamed of yourself if you did not participate in the last election.
P.S. In general, millennials need to be more active in politics so that fresh minds can replace the worn-out, repetitive rhetoric promoted by the old guard in our government. Political apathy, not Chinese smog, clouds the future of Korea.