Today is Election Day here in Busan. Thank God! I say that, because for the last few weeks, we have heard endless songs, chants, and other propaganda for the election. It wouldn't bother us if it wasn't reverberating right outside the doors and windows of both our school and apartment. But it is.
To campaign, the individual candidates are driven around, standing in the back of trucks and incessantly waving as if they're on parade. Each candidate has a number displayed on their person and their vehicle, to separate them from the competitors. Renditions of “Jingle Bells”, the “Beverly Hills Cop” theme song, and other recognizable and equally annoying songs are used as a background for candidates’ campaign promises. These promises boom from speakers as they drive by. On busy street corners there are loyal campaigners displaying numbers matching those of their candidates. Brightly adorning each corner, the campaigners wear matching uniforms from head to toe. To top off their attire many groups wear white gloves. Stopping every so often to bow to oncoming people and traffic, they are relentless with their support.
Today at lunch I spotted the van belonging to “Number 1”, although it happened to be unoccupied at that time. Lunch break?
Across the street from our school, an impossible to miss poster advertises mayoral candidate Number 5.
This video, filmed in Bucheon, a neighboring city, drives home the point I’ve been trying to make here. The right side seems to be cut off, but you get the idea.
From what we can gather, the election involves selecting a mayor, and voting on seats regarding education. Election day is considered a national holiday, where all the public schools are closed, giving students and teachers a day off. Remind me again why we chose to work at a private school? No day off for us.
At least the music stops today!