STORY: From viral videos to wacky campaign promises, rival candidates in a high-stakes South Korean election are doing whatever it takes to win over young voters before the polls open this week.
They’re going to unusual lengths to prove they’re not out of touch.
In January, liberal contender Lee Jae-myung reached out to younger voters by calling for legalizing the tattoo industry – something the older generation largely finds taboo.
And now Lee’s proposing hair loss insurance – covering the cost of treatment for young men who believe going bald hurts their career and marriage prospects in a culture often obsessed with appearance.
Lee has a task force to help engage with young voters – but so does his rival.
And despite his efforts, Lee is trailing opposition party leader Yoon Suk-yeol.
Yoon got a recent boost when a third candidate dropped out and joined his ticket.
But he’s also had a leg up from a team of young people assembled through public auditions.
They’ve turned to meme-ready YouTube Shorts videos and a ‘deepfake’ version of Yoon that takes digs at Lee.
There’s some signs of success.
According to Realmeter, Yoon’s popularity’s shot up with people in their 20s – from 30 to 40 percent over the past few months.
However, it remains a tight race.
It’s been called the ‘unlikeable election,’ with some voters turned off by what they see as smear tactics from either side – and high disapproval ratings.
For 30-year-old voter Park So-yul, the election will come down to concrete policies instead of one-off promises.
"Policies on stabilizing housing prices and housing plans appealed to me as it concerns my future. We’re not a generation who can afford a house with our salary unlike our parents. I’m soon to be married, so the housing policies are important to me as I want the prices to be finally stabilized."
Skyrocketing home prices are one of the major issues on the minds of the some 44 million South Koreans eligible to vote on the country’s leader on Wednesday.