Posts mislead on voting rights for naturalised South Korean citizens in presidential election
Facebook posts shared repeatedly ahead of the upcoming South Korean presidential election claim the country's election commission published its voting guide pamphlet "only in [Mandarin] Chinese" for non-Korean speakers. The posts go on to claim that "Chinese people have nothing to do with the election". These claims are misleading; all foreign nationals who have obtained South Korean citizenship can vote in the country's presidential election. AFP found the commission also published a Vietnamese and English-language version of the same pamphlet for naturalised citizens who do not read Korean.
The claim was shared here on Facebook on February 15, 2022.
"I just don't get it. Why does South Korea's National Election Commission publish an official pamphlet on the presidential election in Chinese," reads the Korean-language claim in part.
The claim was shared alongside a link to a report published by Seoul-based online newspaper FN Today on February 14, 2022.
The Korean report is headlined: "Chinese is printed in the official pamphlet on presidential election".
It reads in part: "In a pamphlet published by South Korea's National Election Commission on the upcoming presidential election, the election information is printed in Mandarin Chinese.
"Only South Korean nationals can vote in the presidential election. Chinese people have nothing to do with the election. And what about Vietnamese, Americans and Japanese? It is unfair for the commission to print such information only in Chinese."
The report published a screenshot of the pamphlet.
Korean text superimposed on the screenshot reads: "The commission unnecessarily published the election information in Chinese. After all, it is an election for South Korean president".
The 2022 South Korean presidential election is scheduled to be held on March 9, 2022.
Ahead of the polls, Yoon Suk-yeol, candidate for the opposition People Power Party, has been locked in a tight race with the ruling Democratic Party's candidate Lee Jae-myung.
However, the claim is misleading.
The South Korean law grants voting rights to Korean citizens aged 19 or above in the presidential election.
According to South Korea's National Election Commission, this includes foreigners who have acquired Korean citizenship -- also known as naturalised Korean citizens.
"Naturalised Korean citizens can vote in the presidential election," the commission told AFP on February 17.
"Foreigners who obtained Korean citizenship exercised their voting rights in the 17th South Korean presidential election held on 19th," reads a report from local daily Hankyoreh in part.
Keyword searches on Google found that the pamphlet cited by the misleading report was originally published on January 7, 2022 here by the commission in four languages, including Mandarin Chinese.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the misleading post (L) and the pamphlet published by the commission (R):
The pamphlet is titled "Presidential Election: Together with Multicultural Families / 20th Presidential Election on Wednesday, March 9, 2022".
It provides information about the upcoming election -- including the date and location of the vote and the procedure for voting.
The same information, however, was published in Korean, Vietnamese, and English-language pamphlets -- not just Mandarin Chinese.
Producing pamphlets in different languages is part of the commission's efforts to encourage naturalised Korean citizens to vote in the upcoming election.