Naturalized citizens excited to vote
Naturalized citizens casting their ballots Wednesday could not hide their excitement at the opportunity to participate in the process of choosing the nation’s future course and making their voice heard.
“The opportunity given to me to vote and voice my opinion in my father’s country is very important to me,” said Adrian Lee, 30, an emcee working for Arirang TV, in an interview with The Korea Times.
“It is an invaluable opportunity as my choice of candidate may affect my life and my kids’ life in the future, especially because I have decided to live and work in Korea.”
Lee was born to a Korean father and French mother, and was raised in France. He came to Korea in 2008 after completing his masters’ degree in France and has been working for Arirang TV since January 2009.
“Korea wants to become a global leader and in order to do so it needs to have a good understanding of the demographic change in the country.” Lee said. “Korea will soon become a multicultural country like France with diversity in terms of ethnic backgrounds. It is important for the next leader to take this into account.”
Korea is currently experiencing an influx of immigrants as it has opened the doors for exceptionally talented foreigners to have dual citizenship and a growing number of Koreans opt for international marriages.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the number of such citizens eligible to vote has surpassed 115,000.
An Shunhua, 47-year-old immigrant from China also showed excitement at participating in the election. She acquired Korean citizenship after marrying a Korean in 2003.
“Previously, I could not even distinguish campaign pledges and future plans of presidential candidates due to my limited Korean language skills,” said An. “But this time, I managed to understand the policies of every candidate before making up my mind.”
An said she studies closely which candidate has better policies on families with multiracial backgrounds.
“Unfortunately, there were not many multicultural policies,” An said. “So I checked on what kind of activities candidates have participated in regarding the issue and chose a candidate who will help my kids attend school without discrimination.”
It is her second time voting in a presidential election.
Yu Thimiha, a 40-year-old voter from Vietnam, said she also cast a ballot for a candidate she believes can best represent her interests and those of people with different ethnic backgrounds.
“Coming from a foreign country and being a woman, I hope the Korean government can support multicultural families more than now,” she said.
“I have lived in Korea for 15 years. I hope the Korean government changes the law so that my parents in Vietnam can also come to Korea so that we can live together.”