Wednesday, December 19, 2012

100 Days...

Today was the 18th South Korean Presidential Election.  Here it happens every five years, compared to every four in the US.  The main battle was between Park Geun-hye and Moon Jae-in, but it seems Park Geun Hye is winning the election.  And this is with the ballots all cast by hand, with stamps on paper.  It must be a tiring job for all the ballot counters!  South Korea saw a 75.8% voter turnout among the eligible population.  I saw pictures of people taking boats from remote islands to their voting locations on the local news stations; that is pretty hardcore.  Taking into consideration the current numbers, Park Geun Hye will become the first female president, and is the daughter of Park Chung-hee, a former president of Korea responsible for the military coup in 1961.  While many people in Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, and the northern provinces prefer Park, voters in the southern provinces and Jeju, along with younger voters, prefer Moon.  The article I linked to above gives some more detail into the election if you'd like to read more.

I can't imagine how people watching the election results here must feel.  It could possibly be similar to how I was feeling back in November and watching the results of the US election roll in online.  With such close elections, you can't help but sit on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what happens.  I just wish that US voter turnout could be as high as it was here today.  The final number for 2012 hasn't been declared but the estimates I read online put it at around 52 percent, lower than in 2008.  What will it take to get more people fired up and passionate about voting in the States?  And when can we hope for our own female president to be elected?

I asked some of my Korean friends and co-teachers who they thought would be a better president for South Korea and got mixed answers.  Then I asked them who they thought would be a better president to work with President Obama.  They weren't sure.  I suppose we'll just have to wait and see how things work out after the new year and the presidential inaugurations take place.

While I won't be around to experience first-hand the effects of the new Korean presidency, I know that I'll be following what happens to the friends that I will leave behind.  Today, December 19th, also happens to mark 100 days that I have left in Korea.  After almost five years, time is coming to a close for me in the Land of Morning Calm.  Yikes!  I will miss all the great people and good things about Korea, but there are also things about Korea I won't miss.  (Squatter toilets, anyone?)

Now my thoughts are turning to:

Selling my things
Mailing boxes home by boat
Buying gifts for people at home
Studying for the PRAXIS 
Job-hunting in NC
Doing everything in Korea I didn't get the chance to yet
Wrapping up loose ends
Winter camp and March lessons

Months ago I never thought I would make it through this past year.  There were a lot of struggles and problems with this job, days that I was just ready to throw in the towel and get the heck out of here.  Until my awesome co-teacher showed up, I was miserably bored, just waiting for the day to finish so I could go do something fun.  She changed a lot of that for me and made the difficult parts more fun.  Right now she is on bed rest because of an accident and won't be back at school until possibly February.  Luckily it's the end of the semester and the next 1.5 months are vacation.  I hope that she will be well enough to return before I leave, because I enjoy her company so much.  And I hope that in the end, my school and I will be able to be civil enough to complete the contract with both parties getting what they want.

One hundred days, Korea.  Let's see what they bring.

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