Gwangju Blog

Essentials with JD #377 **LOCAL ELECTION INFO**



Today is local election day here in Korea! According to estimates there are over 100,000 foreigners in Korea eligible to vote in these elections. If you are please head out and vote. Polls run from 6am till 6pm. Please do not forget to take your ARC with you.

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Here are some other highlights from the campaign over the past couple of days.

More than 8.6 million South Koreans cast ballots during the two-day early voting last Friday and Saturday for the June 13th local elections.

According to the National Election Committee, the turnout was the highest in Jeollanamdo Province with 31.73 percent and the lowest in the traditionally conservative city of Daegu with 16.43 percent. In the capital city of Seoul, 19.1 percent of voters were found to take part in the early voting.

The results from the elections are widely seen as an indicator of voter sentiment toward the incumbent leader, with recent polls showing that the ruling Democratic Party is taking a sizable lead in both elections on the back of strong public support for President Moon and his peace drive toward North Korea.

KBS, MBC, and SBS released the results of a joint poll, the last that can be disclosed to the public before Election Day. The poll commissioned by the three broadcasters surveyed about one-thousand men and women over the age of 19 in the cities and provinces for four days from last Saturday. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 to 3.5 percentage points and a 95 percent confidence level.

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According to the results, candidates from the ruling Democratic Party were leading in 14 cities and provinces. The main opposition Liberty Korea Party is seen winning only in its traditional strongholds of Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, while an independent candidate was in the lead on Jeju Island.

For the Gwangju mayoral election, Democratic candidate is expected to win 60.7% of the vote, miles ahead of runner-up Na Gyung-Chae of the Justice Party with 3 percent and Minjung Party candidate Yoon Min-ho with 2.5 percent.

In the battle for Seoul mayor, incumbent Park Won-soon, affiliated with the ruling party, received about 49.3 percent of support, while LKP candidate Kim Moon-soo and Ahn Cheol-soo from the Bareunmirae Party secured 13.6 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.



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The City of Gwangju and the 2019 Gwangju World Aquatics Championship Organizing Committee said on Sunday that a FINA delegation visited the city on a 3-day trip from last Wednesday.

During their visit, the delegation led by its executive director Cornel Marculescu engaged in meetings with Gwangju officials on transportation, accommodation, broadcasting, food, facilities and marketing.


Reportedly, the delegation showed satisfaction on the smooth preparation for the competition.

Meanwhile, Gwangju Mayor Yoon Jang Hyeon and the O. C. Chairman Cho Yeong Taek asked for FINA’s active role in attracting North Korean athletes to the championship and FINA director Cornel Marculescu pledged to allocate special funding from the budget for their participation.

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The 2019 Gwangju World Aquatics Championship will take place from July 12th to 28th and Masters Competition will be held from August 5th to 18th in participation of some 15,000 swimmers and officials from 200 countries.


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Party in a Box

Party in a Box-small


The other day, an image happened upon me that gave face to a ubiquitous form of local audio-visual culture. The umpa-umpa sound of uptempo Trot music are common when intruding upon the edges of older nightlife areas. This rhythm, accompanied by the consecutive quarter note yelps on the upbeat of every fourth bar have come to form a bride not just to the song at hand, but also from my world to another. With its avid fanbase retired, but nevertheless aging, it seems prudent to wonder at the strength of this music’s foothold in the local sonic vernacular.

My experience of these sounds usually comes from feeling the sub-bass through some inner sanctum of dance and soju-fueled debauchery behind layers of rebar or reinforced glass. In all, these notes form a soundtrack for visuals which through their illusory character have sparked my curiosity in recent years. While not getting to see inside these pockets of urban party I have come to wonder what really goes on in such party ‘boxes’, neatly tucked away into the cracks in the façades of aging urban neighborhoods. Thankfully, several old department stores in downtown Gwangju still offer hints at what remains unseen.

On this day, I devoted an hour to one of these throwbacks, an arcade of delights which would make Walter Benjamin proud. In it, I saw the scene above. A double-layered faux wooden box, with reverbed mic at the ready sat in front of me spewing out the sonic hits which I had grown to incredulously love. One of many, it nevertheless stood out for the simple reason that overhead it, a spectacle of concentric colored dots moved in quick succession to every chordal change or synthesized brass blast from the speakers facing me. What a moment. Alone with these machines on the third floor, I did the most inconspicuous of dances. This experience was hint enough that the party is indeed real, and one day, aged or not, I will revel in it.


[Image taken with my Contax T2 shooting Afga 200, the muted tones of which provide the perfect old-timey edge to this scene.]


(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)





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The City of Gwangju has launched its heatwave safety system to help citizens counter scorching hot weather this summer season. Temperatures this past week have already reached into the low 30’s and forecasters predict that it is just the beginning of the summer heat.

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As in winter the city set up shelters to help beat the cold, this summer he city will operate 1,286 heat shelters throughout its jurisdiction.

75 Kwangju Bank offices will also open its doors to locals as heat shelters.

Shades rest areas will be expanded to 200 stations from 110 last year. Canopies will be installed at crowded crosswalks across the city and heated areas will be cooled with sprinkler trucks.

When a heat wave advisory is issued, the city’s disaster helpers will visit senior citizens and those with disabilities to ensure their safety.

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I have not seen the ones provided by the city up and running yet, but if you find yourself at the ACC at the weekend they have shaded rest areas which are quick unique and amazing. Check it out and stay cool and hydrated, you don’t want to suffer from heat stroke!

In related news rain is predicted for tomorrow which is likely to break the heatspell.



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South Korea is holding 2-day early voting for the June 13th local elections and parliamentary by-elections from Friday. This year over 100,000 foreign nationals are eligible to vote in these elections.

Eligible voters can cast ballots at 3,512 polling stations nationwide from 6:00am to 6:00pm on Friday and Saturday.

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There are 95 polling stations prepared in Gwangju and 297 in Jeollanamdo.

Those who wish to cast their vote early must bring an identification certificate such as resident registration card, driver’s license or other government issued identifications.

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Up for grabs in the quadrennial local elections are 17 chiefs of provinces and metropolises, 226 heads of smaller administrative units, 824 seats in provincial and metropolitan assemblies, 2,927 lower-level local councilors and 17 superintendents of education.

Parliamentary by-elections will also be conducted in 12 districts nationwide. It marks the first time that the two elections will be held simultaneously.

The ruling Democratic Party stands at an advantage as it enjoys a high approval rate on the back of optimism about rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula following Moon’s summit with the North’ Korean leader in late April.

In Gwangju and Jeonnam, a total of 229 and 741 candidates have registered respectively. Among them, candidates from the ruling Democratic party dominated the region occupying 41.6% in Gwangju and 44.2% in Jeonnam.



(For more local news and updates tune into to keep abreast of the issues)