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Opposition party apologizes after suggesting elderly shouldn’t voteBy Kim Arin
Published : Aug. 3, 2023 - 17:51
South Korea’s main opposition party on Thursday apologized after a lawmaker and key official suggested older people are not as deserving of the right to vote on decisions about the future.
Kim Eun-kyung, who heads the Democratic Party of Korea’s reform committee, visited the office of the senior citizens’ association in Seoul’s central Yongsan district and apologized for saying earlier that older people’s votes should not count as much as votes from younger people.
“To the senior citizens of our country, I’m sorry for hurting your feelings. I will be careful not to make such comments in the future,” she said.
During a roundtable talk with young supporters on Sunday, she said, “It makes more sense to count votes in proportion to the voters’ age. Votes from people who don’t have much future ahead of them shouldn’t count as much.”
Her remarks immediately invoked public criticism, mainly from senior citizens’ groups, which demanded that the party leaders apologize.
Deepening the controversy, Democratic Party Rep. Yang-yi Won-young took to her social media on Monday and said “younger generations should be allowed to make decisions about their future,” in an apparent defense of what Kim had said a day earlier.
“Votes decide our future. Unfortunately, a lot of the people who get to cast votes won’t even be around in the future determined by voting,” she said.
Kim’s apology wasn’t received well by the senior citizens’ association. One of the association’s officials, speaking to reporters, said older Koreans “deserve respect for rebuilding the country after it was torn by war.”
Later the same day Democratic Party floor leader Rep. Park Kwang-on visited the office of the senior citizens’ association and said his party figures seemingly endorsing an age limit on voting was “inappropriate.”
“We regret that such hurtful remarks were made against our intentions,” he told members of the association.
Rep. Yun Jae-ok, the ruling People Power Party’s floor leader, said in a party leadership meeting Thursday that the Democratic Party, with its apparent calls for an age-weighted voting, was “thought to be targeting older voters who tend to favor our party.”
“This is not the first time the Democratic Party has attempted to demonize voter groups that do not align with its party,” he said, calling on its leaders namely the party chair Rep. Lee Jae-myung to issue a sincere apology.
People Power Party chair Rep. Kim Gi-hyeon said in a statement that the Democratic Party’s “open display of aversion to senior Koreans” was “baffling.”
“It’s curious how the Democratic Party chair, who appointed Kim to lead the reform committee, has yet to speak on the matter,” he said.
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