My name is Daniel. I was an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea, and am now a writer who has
published three books including South Korea: Our Story by Daniel Nardini.
There is a major controversy in the Republic of Korea about what the
minimum voting age should be. In the United States it is 18 (although some states have
considered making it 17 in some states for local and regional elections). It used to be 21, but
many young people 50 years ago contended that if they could be taken into the U.S. armed
forces against their will at age 18, then why could they not vote at age 18? They were being
denied a basic right while forced to perform an important duty. This was thankfully changed
because to do otherwise was against the U.S. Constitution. No one should be denied a basic
right. However, part of exercising a basic right is also to know what that right is. This is why
many nations including the United States have not lowered for the most part the voting age.
There are, of course, intelligent to very intelligent people at age 16 or even younger, but by and
large most still have a long time to mature and have a basic understanding of what voting
actually means for their lives and the lives of their people and nation. Just as equally important
is that there are many people who simply have not matured at age 18, and may take even
more years to mature at all. But age 18 has been set at age 18 in the U.S. (age 19 in South
Korea), and that many kids in South Korea's public and private schools are still trying to get the
basics for when they graduated and go to university or to work. The danger of making the voting
age is that young people will mostly not have the legal or political development they could have
in just a few years. So it might be best to leave the voting age, once it is changed in South
Korea, to age 18.