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Mass Media Take Root as New Campaign Method

Posted December. 05, 2002 22:33,   


Campaign culture is changing.

With the start of the official campaign period for the presidential election, the major form of campaign is turning from the past infantry engagement with a lot of people to an air strike using high-tech weapons.

The scene of tens of thousands of audience members gathered in front of a stumping candidate has completely disappeared.

During the official campaign period, each party is allowed to hold 315 speech meetings. As of Dec. 5, however, only three speech rallies (the Grand National Party twice, the Millennium democratic Party once) were held. Some kinds of Campaign brokers, who ask for money in return for mobilizing audience members at such rallies, disappeared.

Instead, each candidate is focusing on canvassing using a small-scale guerrilla warfare strategy. And a new campaign culture, in which candidates go campaigning on the subway, has emerged.

Lee Hoi-chang, presidential candidate of the majority Grand National Party (GNP), participates in a street campaign 13 times per day on average. On each occasion, the audience does not exceed 1,000 and the campaign lasts less than half an hour. Meanwhile, Roh Moo-hyun, standard-bearer of the pro-government Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), holds only five-to-six street campaigns. The number of the audience is about 1,000 at the most.

The place for street campaign was not decided earlier. Rather, it is selected considering where a close competition is expected according to the results of opinion polls.

Roh is taking advantage of text messaging on cellular phones in the street campaigning. They send text message about the stumping plan everyday to cell phones of 800,000 out of 1,900,000 people who applied to cast a ballot in the MDP`s April primaries.

It is also said that combined with the Internet, mass media such as broadcasting, newspaper ads and speeches on TV plays more important roles. Lee and Roh posted their campaign pledges and show animated visual images on their own website, www.changepower.org and www.kowhow.or.kr.

They are also competing to get a database of e-mail addresses. The GNP and MDP have secured some 200,000 e-mail addresses and they are sending customized information to each person for election campaign.

Due to this kind of change in campaign culture, the practice of each party sending a kind of "ammunition" to its branch offices is also being phasing out.

Jeong-Hun Kim Seung-Ryun Kim jnghn@donga.com srkim@donga.com