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Local cities cancel events ahead of May 9 election

Law prohibits certain activities from being held 60 days prior
Mar 20,2017
Municipal governments are canceling or postponing festivals and myriad other events initially scheduled before May 9 to avoid possibly violating election law during the presidential campaign period.

According to the Gyeonggi Election Commission on Thursday, the election law prohibits various activities or events - including cultural lectures, business presentations, public hearings, gatherings of occupational associations, athletic events, networking events and civic consultations - from taking place 60 days before election day.

With the presidential election day set on May 9, this prohibition has been in effect since March 10.

The Suwon City Government has postponed a talk show on the subject of the constitutional amendment to the latter half of this year. Ansan city has similarly put off a discussion session regarding provincial social security consultation planned on March 29. In Daegu, there is also talk of postponing the April youth employment discussions to June.

Provincial governments are no exception as the Gyeonggi Provincial Government is also deliberating whether to push back a public relations event originally set on March 24, and is also debating whether to cancel a portion of the program for the Gyeonggi Cherry Blossom Festival planned for April 7 to 9. Furthermore, an Earth Day event that was to be held in April in the heart of Daegu is now being rescheduled for September. Two other seasonal festivals and events in Daegu will now be set for the end of May.

“An early presidential election was suddenly scheduled after the dismissal of the president,” said a municipal government official, “so we had to take the election law into account. We had to cancel or postpone events or festivals even though they have been annually held at this time of the year.”

“It is inevitable that the heads [of municipal governments] preemptively react as any violation of the election law means facing criminal charges,” said Lim Suhng-bin, professor of public administration at Myongji University. “Instead of thoughtlessly cancelling or postponing pre-existing festivals, it is more appropriate to follow through on festivals that were for the sake of residents.”

“Only events by decree and regional festivals organized by the central government will be allowed, including festivals that are only possible at specific times following the guidelines for tourism revitalization,” said an official from the Gyeonggi Election Commission. “We will promptly determine whether hosting certain events or festivals will violate election law.”

BY LIM MYOUNG-SOO, KIM BANG-HYUN and KIM YOON-HO [hwang.hosub@joongang.co.kr]