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Framing war

Posted May. 02, 2017 07:06,   

Updated May. 02, 2017 07:18


Moon Jae-in, a presidential candidate of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, often talks about "accumulated evil." In particular, his camp is offensive against the anti-Moon alliance movement led by Ahn Cheol-soo, a presidential candidate of the minor opposition People’s Party. As Moon's camp gets criticized for splitting the people, it picked up again the “accumulated evil,” which he refrained from using after the official launch of his campaign. His camp probably thought that the framing was pretty effective.

An election is all about framing. Camps continue sending a strategic key message to frame opponents. One of the tactics is a “negative ad.” Once framed, it is not easy to get out of it. One of the biggest victims in this election would be Ahn Cheol-soo. An opinion poll showed that Ahn was more noticeable in losing his supporters at the opponent’s negative ad against him. This is why he lost most in his approval ratings.

Ahn’s response was also awkward. His worst mistake was that he asked in the television debate, “Am I Gap (arrogant and bossy in translation) Cheol-soo? Am I MB’s avatar (MB referring to former President Lee Myung-bak)?” Didn’t he know what George Lakoff, a framing theorist, said in his book “Don’t Think of an Elephant?” Former U.S. President Richard Nixon who was mired in the Watergate scandal made everyone think he is a crook at the moment when he said in a television debate, “I’m not a crook.” If you use your opponent’s language to refute his claim, it will only leave a stronger impression to voters or the framing effect.

Framing should be clear. Lakoff warned that one should not move to the other spectrum of one’s camp to target centrists. Centrists such as Ahn are supposed to be vulnerable to a framing war. So is Yoo Seung-min of the Bareun Party representing a “warmhearted conservative.” He is also strapped by what he said – “You can forgive a murderer but not a betrayer.” The framing war eventually makes politics go the extreme. And the harm from framing is borne by the winner.