Why South Koreans were deeply interested in the 2020 Presidential Election: “Katchi Kapshida.”
I watched the result of the 2020 United States presidential election in South Korea. The result was live broadcast for hours (and days), taking up prime time for Korean television shows. As of today, Korean media continues to cover amply news about Biden’s victory, Trump’s refusal to concede, and other election-related updates.
This year’s election was particularly important to South Koreans. South Korean citizens have been dismayed by the Trump administration’s pendulating attitude in dealing with North Korea. Trump’s threat to withdraw the U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula has bred fearmongering and bewildered them. South Koreans have learned what kind of U.S. commander-in-chief could put national defense at risk in their homeland.
A few days before the election, the now president-elect Joe Biden published an op-ed in a reputable Korean news outlet. His article emphasized the alliance between the two nations, acknowledged hardworking Korean-Americans, and praised South Korean response to COVID-19. At the end of writing, he used the expression “katchi kapshida.”
Katchi Kapshida is a Korean word that means “We Go Together.” This expression also symbolizes the mutual defense relationship between the U.S. and South Korea, which has been steadfast since 1953. On the United States Forces Korea (USFK) website, the welcome message begins with this expression. The president of South Korea, Moon Jae-In, recently picked up the word and reused it in his congratulatory memo to Mr. Biden.
South Koreans’ profound interest in this year’s election illustrates how deeply the U.S. president can influence other parts of the world, especially its allies. I am a South Korean immigrant who maintains close social connections with Korean fellows. Over the past four years, I painfully saw my Korean families, friends, and friends becoming cynical about the U.S. leadership. Until not long ago, these people used to admire the U.S. as a role model of democracy.
As much as U.S. citizens are curious and anticipating the nation’s future with Mr. Biden as a president, South Koreans are likewise looking forward to seeing his leadership. They hope not only to fortify alliance with the U.S. but also to regain their belief that the U.S. is indeed a capable guardian of global democracy. They want to “Katchi Kapshida” with the U.S.