Two people passed away from carbon monoxide poisoning on the People Party’s presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo’s election campaign bus. A similar accident also occurred in Wonju City of Gangwon Province, where the bus driver is in serious condition. The accident happened two days ago, when the official presidential campaign kicked off for the first time. It was estimated to be caused by carbon monoxide, which has no color, taste, smell, omitted from the power generator used to light up the LED signboard attached outside of the bus.
The cause and accountability of the accident should be defined, investigations carried out on whether LED signage and power generators had been properly installed and run and whether the users had been warned of and provided caution on the possibility of carbon monoxide. Other candidates should also pay attention to safety issues, given that they run similar election campaigns. We should also reconsider on how the campaign is run in an age where communication and promotion channels evolve at the speed of light.
During the official campaign period, campaign vehicles, loudspeakers and music are permitted. On the other hand, we are facing the fourth industrial revolution. Political parties and candidates had competed to unveil cutting edge promotion techniques using artificial intelligence and metaverse but reverted to the traditional and analog ways of campaign.
Moreover, the number of confirmed COVID cases has continued to double from the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, reaching 90,000 confirmed cases per day. Enforcements are still in place to prohibit store operations after 9 p.m., and personal gatherings are still discouraged as well. It is unreasonable to limit store operation hours, bearing the burden on the self-employed, while permitting campaigns.
Ahn suspended all campaign plans, and the other candidates refrained from playing presidential campaign songs and dance Wednesday. This can be a turning point for the candidates to promote their campaigns in a way that does not involve direct contact. We should promote bilateral and multilateral televised discussions in a more varied and in-depth manner and come up with more creative ways that effectively and efficiently reach out to the audience in the age of new media channels. The tragic incident could be an opportunity to reflect on traditional offline campaigns involving loud music, campaign vehicles, repeated shouts of candidates’ names.