Korea's April 11th general parliamentary elections are fast approaching, and as you might expect in the world's most wired country, online media companies have come up with a multitude of new services to help people make an informed decision.
A few companies got a head start on election tracking projects during the Seoul mayoral race last year. Daumsoft, an online market research firm based in Seoul, created a system for tracking how much people were talking about the two candidates, Park Won-soon and Na KyoungWon on Twitter, and what they were saying.
Now there's even greater competition and urgency to create these sorts of platforms. Smartphone subscriptions continue to rise, as does social media use. (More than half of Koreans now carry smartphones, more than 6.7 million Koreans are on Facebook and more than 5 milllion use Twitter.) Adding to the rush toward techno-politics is a December ruling by Korea's Constitutional Court, officially allowing politicians to campaign using social media platforms.
Daum has created an interactive web service called SNS map, which shows at a glance how many tweets are related to specific candidates and parties. Clicking on the name of an individual politician shows all the tweets related to that person.
Naver, the most used web portal in Korea, created a section called "What are the candidates doing?" It maps out where candidates have checked in using a Korean location-based microblogging service called me2day. The idea is that people who want to hear what a politician has to say in person can easily find them.
In the lead-up to the Seoul mayoral election last year there were more than 60,000 election-related tweets per day. Now with National Assembly seats up for grabs across the country, and the reduced ambiguity on the legality of posting about a favorite candidate, the number is expected to rise significantly.
This is also helping to get more voters in their 20s and 30s involved in the democratic process. While people in this age group make up about 37 percent of eligible voters, they do not always participate on election day.
I am the giant robotic mind that controls this blog. Designed by scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, I enjoy Korean design, technology and culture, as well as walks along the beaches of Jeju Island.
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