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Jun 03 2017
by Mateusz Wilder

What College Students Should Know About the New South Korean President

By Mateusz Wilder - Jun 03 2017
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On May 9, South Koreans took to the polls in a historic election following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. The Democratic candidate, Moon Jae-in, won the elections with a staggering 41 percent of the vote. It was the largest turnout since 1997, with 80 percent of the population voting. Due to the impeachment of the previous president, President Moon assumed office immediately and will serve as president until the next elections in 2022.

Why should President Moon matter to college students, especially Americans? He is a living example of the idea of the American dream, even if he is not from the United States. He has overcome a lot of hardships, including growing up the son of two North Korean refugees and being arrested, expelled and disqualified from government jobs pertaining to law for his involvement in protests aimed to improve civil and political rights in Korea during college. Which is why it is so surprising and impressive that he managed to get to the position he is in now. He has spent his whole life fighting for greater equity in Korea, showing students that it is important to fight for justice and human rights, even if it is against all odds. President Moon's career offers many lessons to politically-interested college students. For example, many U.S. college students lack the motivation to vote due to the feeling that their vote is insignificant. Moon is a living reminder that even a single citizen can make a large impact in the political landscape. If anything, President Moon should serve as an inspiration to get involved in politics and strive toward making a difference.

His foreign policies also contain important ideas about cooperation that college students can utilize in American politics. Moon is a very strong advocate for the reunification of North and South Korea, and his aim is to reduce the hostility between the two nations while increasing economic and military cooperation. Although he has stated his dislikes for many things about the North, he has emphasized a recognition of the differing political views and the normalcy of that. This sense of understanding seems to be scarce on American college campuses, and it is vital that students adopt this "Moon" mentality of understanding in order to create an improved atmosphere on campuses.

It will be interesting to see how President Moon attempts to increase cooperation between the North and South over his next few years in office, and how he deals with President Trump in order to lower the military tensions between the US, North Korea and China. Politically inspired students should definitely follow his policies, as many of them not only affect them but also can be used as good teaching tools about politics in the United States.

Lead Image Credit: Obama White House via Flickr

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Mateusz Wilder - McGill University

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