- By Shannon SchweitzerShannon Schweitzer is deputy copy editor at Foreign Policy. Prior to joining FP in May 2015, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Middle East Institute and as a manuscript editor on Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo, a collection of essays on Iran’s sociocultural transition and its impacts on the country’s democratic prospects. A New Orleans native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University, where she also completed a minor in Arabic and a certificate in Iranian studies. Having partly grown up in Athens, Greece, she has lived and studied in Jordan and China.
As South Koreans voted Tuesday to choose a new president, TV networks there outdid themselves in their election coverage, hoping to entice viewers in the country’s notoriously competitive media industry. SBS and MBC — two of South Korea’s biggest TV networks — rolled out a slew of elaborate election graphics and animated shorts referencing popular culture, including Pokémon, Rocky, “Street Fighter,” and dabbing, among others.
Attracting the most social media attention was SBS’s use of Game of Thrones to narrate the elections results as they came in, with bizarre renderings of the presidential candidates superimposed on a fantasy world full of fire-breathing dragons:
On MBC, Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party — the presumptive winner of Tuesday’s race — zoomed past People’s Party candidate Ahn Cheol-soo to take the vote in Seoul. As in literally zoomed past, in an animated race car:
These are Korea's election graphics. Seriously. Eat it, rest of the boring world. pic.twitter.com/1v061Jju3a
— Mark Russell (@themarkrussell) May 9, 2017
“I choose you!” SBS uses Poké Balls to show how different districts of Seoul voted:
In one SBS graphic, Moon knocks out his conservative rival Hong Joon-pyo, à la Rocky, in the central city of Daejeon, winning 43 percent of the vote there (and counting):
SBS going with rocky theme for election coverage, among other themes pic.twitter.com/nIWZR7tjrX
— Paul Kerry (@iampaulkerry) May 9, 2017
Moon with a spin kick to Hong’s face, “Street Fighter”-style, on MBC:
South Korea's MBC now covering presidential election Street Fighter-style pic.twitter.com/1sQQBzgxdj
— Sam Kim (@samkimasia) May 9, 2017
Moon, Ahn, and Justice Party candidate Sim Sang-jung dabbing for voters in another SBS graphic:
ㅅㅂㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅠㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ나 울엌ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ존나 힙하다ㅜㅠㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ pic.twitter.com/JAvzetZtt9
— 포포٩(ˊᗜˋ*)و (@poporing_S2) May 9, 2017
Olympic curling, anyone? SBS shows Moon easily sliding past Ahn to take the northern province of Gyeonggi:
And against Hong in Seoul:
SBS Network on fire tonight. Anyone excited for Winter Olympics? pic.twitter.com/MxYGtPl6Yj
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) May 9, 2017
With more than 90 percent of ballots counted, early results suggest Moon won the presidency handily, with a margin of about 16 points (as of midnight local time). Speaking to supporters in Seoul’s central square Tuesday night, Moon declared victory, saying, “I will be a president for all the people,” and pledged to unify the country after a dramatic six months that saw the impeachment and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye.
He conspicuously failed to dab, kickbox, or ride dragons at his victory speech.
Moon received 40 percent of votes, followed by the conservative Hong at 25 percent. Ahn of the People’s Party finished third, with 22 percent. Official results are expected Wednesday morning, when the National Election Commission meets to certify the outcome.
Photo credit: screenshot via Seoul Broadcasting System