Credit: Public domain.
Journalist Yun Ho-u 윤호우 of Kyunghyang Shinmun 경향신문 noted that voters in their 40s are serving as the bedrock for the Democratic Party 민주당 and left-of-center politics overall. In this week’s Gallup Korea poll, this demographic’s support for the Dems was overwhelming: 50% versus 9% support for the conservative People Power Party 국민의힘. Adding in their support for minor progressive parties such as the Open Democratic Party 열린민주당 (4%) and the Justice Party 정의당 (6%), a strong 60% of voters in their 40s support liberal politics. These voters make an impact with their numbers, as they are nearly 20% of all voters.
Korea’s Generation X, born in the 1970s, first turned to politics in the late 1990s. Their political “first love” was Roh Moo-hyun 노무현, a political outsider whose 2002 victory in the presidential race spelled the end of the “Three Kims Era” 삼김시대 dominated by the old school politicos Kim Young-sam 김영삼, Kim Dae-jung 김대중 and Kim Jong-pil 김종필. The incompetence and corruption of the two conservative presidencies that followed Roh’s - those of Lee Myung-bak 이명박 and Park Geun-hye 박근혜 - pushed this demographic decisively against the conservative parties. Even though nearly two decades have passed since Roh’s presidency, voters in their 40s have continued to show strong support for liberal politics as a cohort. In the Assembly elections in April, 64.5% of the voters in their 40s voted for a Democratic Party candidate, the highest rate among all demographics.