‘Silly Season’ in South Korea

It’s “Silly Season” in South Korea.

In my former life, as a news reporter, I got firsthand exposure to Smalltown America’s version of “Silly Season,” the time when politicians and wannabe politicians rise from the muck and mire to complain about everything the other team is doing, kiss babies, make promises, show up to every public meeting until they lose, and then never be seen again (at least not until the next election).

But, you don’t have to be a reporter to know when “Silly Season” is in full gear. At least in America, all you need to do is look at the front lawns of your neighbors, grassy street corners overflowing with signs telling voters their horse is the one to beat, and your mailbox, stuffed with postcards from D’s, R’s and everyone in between.

Korea does things a little differently, and a lot bigger.


For several weeks, Bongo trucks outfitted with stages in the back (and, if you’re a reeeeally important politician, VIDEO SCREENS) have been traveling their respective voting districts, blaring rhetoric (I assume), sometimes as early as 7 a.m. And, take a look at that first picture. Those are people bowing, I assume expressing their thankfulness in a stereo-typically Asian way for your vote in their guy’s general direction.

Or lady’s.

All this woman wants is a nap.

And those bows are not an isolated incident. It’s a jungle out there.

That’s a rival bow gang across the street. Serious Sharks vs. Jets business going on here.

I believe there was a rival gang in a bloody “bow-off” against the Yellow Jackets, as well. Maybe near Black Face.

It’s not just mobile banners and vicious, violent rows of bored, bowing middle-aged mothers these politicos are throwing onto the pavement for Korea’s pleasure or disapproval. They’re also invading its buildings.

…silently judging you.
What’s Korean for “serendipity”?

It all seems super silly, because it is. But, not really all that much sillier than what we’re served back in the States. And, one benefit to the Korean way of doing it is after Election Day, the bannered Bongo trucks will stop blocking intersections and causing near accidents. The rival bowing gangs will stand upright. The giant faces looking into your soul from the side of buildings will be taken down, its inhabitants allowed to see the light once more. Back home, those political signs on street corners all across the U.S. of A. will probably just continue to rot.

So, come Wednesday, June 4, vote for…somebody. Me? I’m voting for eating raw fish in Jagalchi, because that’s what I’m doing on Election Day.

JPDdoesROK is a former news editor/writer in New Jersey, USA, who served a one-year tour of duty in Dadaepo/Jangnim, Saha-gu, Busan from February 2013 to February 2014. He is now a teacher in Gimhae.