With less than two months until the June 13 local elections, foreign residents with voting rights say they lack information on candidates. In 2005, the South Korean government revised the Immigration Control Act to allow non-Korean citizens who have held resident visas (F-5) for at least three years to vote in gubernatorial elections, so that they can claim their rights in their registered local constituencies. The number of eligible foreign voters has tripled since the law came into effect for the local and gubernatorial election in 2006, but manifestos of and information about the candidates are not provided in any other language, only in Korean.
“You just have to study on your own. I asked my acquaintances, and studied. But it is indeed difficult to know. Often fewer people with voting rights are interested because they cannot understand the language,” Lee Su-yoen, a naturalized Korean citizen from Vietnam, told The Korea Herald.
Lee, 36, voted in two presidential elections in 2012 and 2017 and one local election in 2014. And after living in Korea for more than 12 years after marrying her Korean husband, she explained that foreigners and multicultural families are often left out in the policymaking process, as they are perceived as insignificant in number.