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Presidential Candidate Fashion Sense

Posted February. 03, 2007 03:42,   


The former mayor of Seoul, Lee Myung-bak, is ranked first in approval ratings in pre-election presidential polls. It is also known that his wife, Kim Yun-ok, takes care of his fashion. Thanks to his wife’s care, the former mayor has been selected as the best dresser among politicians. But experts assess that former mayor Lee has the ability to make the most out of his fashion sense on his own.

The colors of neckties politicians tend to prefer are red and blue. But members of the Uri Party, whatever their rank, often wear yellow ties. They are showing political messages through their fashion.

For politicians, clothes mean communication with the masses. Like the advice from Benjamin Franklin “Eat for your own sake but clothe for the sake of others”, fashion is a field that should never be overlooked. If a politician is to seize the minds of the masses, it is important for the politician to express his or her style through unique fashion.

How about the fashion of those running for the next presidency? Dong-a Ilbo assessed the fashion style of the five major candidates with Professor Jeong Jae-wu’s research team at the Fashion Design Department of Dongduk Women`s University. The subjects were the former mayor of Seoul Lee Myung-bak, the former president of the Grand National Party Park Geun-hye, the former governor of Gyeonggi Sohn Hak-kyu, the chairman of the Uri Party Kim Geun-tae, and the former chairman of the Uri Party Chung Dong-young. Fashion designer Jang Gwang-hyo, Professor Ghan Ho-seop of the Fashion Design Department, Hongik University, and Professor Hong Seung-hwan of the Stylist Department, Yong-in Songdam College, gave help.

The analysis showed that the stereotype that “the way politicians dress is likely to be boring or lack uniqueness” does not apply to the five presidential candidates. Each has his or her own style and has the ability to choose clothing pertinent to the occasion.

Even with the gender difference taken into consideration, the former leader Park Geun-hye stood out. Professor Jeong even said, “Her demerit is that she’s too perfect.” She was conspicuous by the way she showed her willingness to wear clothing that corresponds to the occasion.

Former mayor Lee unfailingly showed the traits of a CEO of a large enterprise, which was his previous job. When wearing dark suits he satisfied both categories of moderateness and uniqueness by his choice of shirt and tie.

The chairman of the Uri Party Kim was impressive for his comforting style that refused to be fixed up anywhere. He was also able to successfully pull off a natural “no-tie” style.

Former chairman Chung has the style of a model student, and former governor Sohn dressed as a British gentleman with a romantic air would.

They also have weak points, however. All of them tend to wear suits that are a bit too big for their bodies and give inflexible impressions by emphasizing fixed styles. Sometimes they unsuccessfully seek changes. At other times their buttons showed despite wearing ties. The candidates also showed a peculiarity of middle-aged Koreans, who always prefer to wear black shoes with suits.

ray@donga.com ksh97@donga.com