April 9 - The rise of social media as a powerful political tool could spring a surprise in South Korea's general election due to be held on April 11. Sophia Soo reports.
Social media could be the tool that swings the votes in South Korea's parliamentary elections later this week. South Korea has the world's second largest blogging community after China and the government has lifted a ban on campaigning using social media networks. Politicians have been reaching out to a younger generation of voters through smartphones. Young people in their 20s and 30s form 37 percent of the voting population and politicians feel they are gaining ground. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) TWEETER KIM MI-HWA SAYING: "Twitter has impacted elections enormously. Many young people do not have an interest in politics, so they do not know which party they should support. Nowadays major young active twitters are progressive." In the changing campaign landscape, analysts say that it could impact the presidential elections, which, for the first time in 20 years, is happening in the same year as parliamentary elections. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) MYONGJI UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, KIM HYUNG-JOON, SAYING: "Since presidential elections will be held in the same year, criticizing the current government is not the common factor among opposition candidates. But many candidates are finding solidarity through new media, including social media platforms" South Korea's parliamentary elections are essentially a dry run for the presidential elections. The vote in December will be the key test of whether the Twitter-using liberals can turn their luck on cyberspace into hard political power. Sophia Soo, Reuters.