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Election Lessons from a Marathon

Posted March. 10, 2006 02:59,   


How is an election similar to a marathon race? That is not an easy question, but that does not stop some people from seeking similarities in the two. Thirty members from the National Election Commission’s GongMyeongYee Marathon Club (president: Yun Seok-geun) took on a challenge of running in 2006 Dong-A Seoul International Marathon on March 12. Their goal: promoting the spirit of fair play in Korean elections by taking lessons from a marathon, where foul play and trickery do not pay.

The GongMyeongYee Marathon Club includes 500 election workers among its members, which is about one-fifth of all Election Commission employees. Among those, 200 members have run a full distance at least once. In the 2004 Dong-A Ilbo Baekje Keungil Marathon, in which 471 of the club’s members attended, Ju Jae-wu (40, Daejeon Seo-gu Election Commission) and Seo Jeong-hee (38, Yeongcheon City Election Commission) won the men’s` and women’s races, respectively.

Facing a nationwide provincial election on May 31, this year’s Seoul Marathon is extra special for these men and women. The marathon is a great opportunity to promote clean elections to public. With that goal in mind, the “GongMyeongYees” will run the marathon wearing uniforms sporting catchphrases such as, “Rewards up to 500 million won for election crime reports” and “Bribe takers will be fined fifty-fold.”

The club is named after the commission’s mascot, GongMyeongYee, a rooster that crows at the break of dawn amidst darkness and chaos, signifying the Election Commission’s role of promoting the practice of clean elections. All members attending the marathon will also raise money for the needy: one won for every meter run. “Our employees are keeping their bodies and minds in check by running in marathons. We hope that the upcoming election would be more like a marathon race, fair and clean,” said Kim Cheol, one of the founders of GongMyeongYee.

Jae-Yun Jung jaeyuna@donga.com