Youth Participation

South Korea is facing the decline of youth participation in elections and politics. According to statistics from the National Election Commission, the number of candidates in their 20s and 30s has been decreasing since reaching its peak of 206 in the 1996 elections. The 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections saw 160, 148 and 33 young candidates, respectively.

The same is true for the number of young voters. The election watchdog’s data showed that the turnout among those in their 20s at the 2004 and 2008 elections were about 45 and 28 percent, respectively. The 2012 elections’ turnout was 40 percent, the lowest in all age groups.

Despite the decline of youth participation, major political parties have been taking steps to galvanize young voters and political aspirants. The ruling Saenuri Party filed candidates under the age of 45 and had no record of having run in the past elections, while the opposition Minjoo Party has been pushing to lower the voting age from 19 to 18. Korea had lowered the suffrage age from 20 to 19 in 2005.


Yeo Jun-suk, [Election 2016] Steering Young Generation into Politics, The Korea Herald, Feb. 10, 2016,

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