Below are pictures of a rally and concert at Cheongye Square in Seoul on December 10, 2005. The rally was in support of human rights for North Koreans.
After the student symposium earlier that afternoon, I met a friend in Yongsan and did not get to the rally site until after it had already started.
When I got to Seoul City Hall station, I had to wade through a crowd of people going to another NK human rights rally at City Hall Square. The City Hall rally was conducted by several Christian organizations including the Christian Council of Korea (CCK). It was only semi-coordinated with other NK human rights events going on that week. The CCK event drew about 10,000, which is not bad for a freezing December day.
I made my way North for a couple of blocks to Cheongye Square to find the Sunshine to the North rally already in progress. I missed Lefkowitz's speech to the rally (pictured at Oranckay*). But did get there in time to catch Kang Chol-hwan and the music.
*TIMEOUT: The picture of Lefkowitz at Oranckay's blog was taken at the Cheongye Square rally and Oranckay's post put him at the City Hall rally. It is possible that he spoke at both. I would certainly appreciate clarification from anyone who was there.
Here are the pictures:
Kang Chol-hwan addresses the crowd. It was mighty cold. Why can't we have our rallies in the spring?
Some of the crowd. I guess there were about 300 at the start of the rally. The crowd later grew to about 700-800.
Looking through the crowd, whom do I see? Its the man, the myth, Michael Horowitz.
Maya. For a K-pop singer, she has some pretty good pipes.
Insooni. As you may have guessed, she is half Korean. In the foreground is a yellow handkerchief most of the people in the crowd had. I believe that they were made by the families of South Koreans abducted by North Korea.
Among the performers there were 에픽하이 (Epik High), 마야 (Maya) and 인순이 (Insooni).
As a bonus, I will show you correct and incorrect ways to treat the riot police kids.
Incorrect: Fighting the kids is right out. This was the group that you always see in the news for burning North Korean flags. There was a group of about 20 guys who were piggy-backing on the large rally at Seoul City Hall. While I don't agree with the government decision that you can burn an American flag but not a North Korean one (I frankly think that both should be legal), I don't see any need to provoke a fight, which is just what this group did.
Correct: Why not let them join in. You still get your point across and maybe a few of this kids will join your group once they get back to college. If you don't have enough money to hire a singer, you can form your own dance team. (If you were wondering about the black spots, I marked out any identifying marks in case they were still on duty.)
Remember folks, this is not 1982. Korea is a democratic country now and you don't need to fight the riot kids.
I should have posted this two weeks ago but did not for a couple of reasons. First, I was waiting for LiNK or LiNK-Asia to post their own summary of the event to which I could link (nothing as of December 26 but there is a happy post on Han-mi). Second, I wanted to finish my reports on the Seoul Summit at One Free Korea.
The Sunshine to the North student symposium for North Korean human rights was cosponsored by Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) and several other student organizations. It took place on Saturday, December 10.
The symposium was originally going to be a Ewha University (with an Ewha U. student group sponsoring), but the school administration blocked them. It was not clear to me but the administration was either pressured by leftist student groups to cancel or canceled out of fear of of being pressured by those groups. Another possibility, not mentioned but in line with other government actions (last paragraph), was that the Korean government asked the school administration to cancel the event.
The same thing happened with Sookmyung University and one other school before they were finally able to have it at Sungshin Women's University.
When I made it to the front of the Sungshin University, I saw exactly 14 leftist protesters. LiNK's Adrian Hong (in the dark gray jacket and jeans) tried to engage their leader in dialog but they were not interested.
Despite the location having been changed 3 times, roughly 300 students attended the symposium; a testament to the wonders of modern communications. That number included a few students from the USA, Japan (RENK) and Belgium.
Adrian Hong and another member of the American branch of LiNK were two of about 8 speakers. I don't know her name but I will try to stay on her good side if we ever meet. She was really, really angry that more was not being done for human rights in North Korea.
The symposium was a great way to rally and energize the students for the cause but I have two complaints: First, the timing was not good for a student event. Having it just before final exams probably hurt attendance some (a few Korean college students actually do study). Also, by the time the next term starts in March, most of the energy generated by the symposium will have dissipated. I realize that the symposium was tied to the Seoul Summit taking place at the same time, but I hope that there is some kind of follow-up event in late March.
My second complaint is that I did not see any organizational workshops during the symposium. The students need energizing but they need to learn organizational skills more. I would certainly welcome a correction if there is organizational training going on.
I found this comment on my blog this morning from Swedish TV producer (and fellow blogger) Gudmundson:
Thought you might like to know that your blog has been quoted on Swedish (!) television, in a story on the traditions of South Korean rioting.
The story can be viewed online (until next week) in the current affairs show Studio 24.
When on the Studio 24 site, click on the link "se senaste programmet", and then on the link "Studio 24 tisdag" (only Real Player). Fast forward 10 minutes and 15 seconds.
The quote from your blog regards your view on the ritualistic quality of South Korean rioting: "There is nothing spontaneous about a Korean riot" etcetera.
Being the producer of Studio 24 I thought I´d tell you all this as a way of saying thanks. Thanks!
(Blogs DO change the way we communicate!)
Swedish TV? That is dope and fly.
I don't understand Swedish, but the video was good. It featured riot scenes from the past few years, including the Korean attacks on Mexico and Hong Kong. It is like the Korean rioters' world tour and greatest hits rolled into one. I found my quote around 13:48.
I want to point out one thing here. This was not a protest that had gone out of control. There is nothing spontaneous about a Korean riot. Everyone knew there was going to be a riot and prepared accordingly.
These riots have a ritualistic quality. There are certain roles that everyone plays and certain rules that everyone follows. They are battles, but they are ritualistic battles like the flower wars of the Aztecs.
I developed that idea further in another post. I'm no anthropologists, but I am convinced that the old Korean custom of sok chon (rock throwing battles between villages or clans) somehow survived the Japanese occupation and evolved into ritual street battles we see today.
The winning touchdown was scored by the defense (nose tackle Jason Hunter running back a fumble). That makes sense because the typical offensive series for ASU over the last 15 years has been; run up the middle, option to the short side, desperation pass, punt.
For a look at another studly nose tackle, check #91 in this picture.
UPDATE: I got this in an email from my friend who went to the game:
I can't describe to you how great the atmosphere was there. There were 21,000 people, 15,000 of which were ASU fans. It was loud all night long. I rushed the field after the game, got hugs from all kinds of strangers, and even from the man - Jason Hunter. The stadium literally shook on Hunter's touchdown. As I told my buddy that went, my only regret is that you weren't there to witness it.
Cool. I certainly would have been there if I lived in the States now.
I fully expect the university and city to pay for a statue of Jason Hunter to go up right next to the statue of Daniel Boone.
BTW, I remember when a big breaking story in Korea would generate some Insta-love from Glen Reynolds. Well, I never got an Instalaunch, but a few others would get one from time-to-time. Now we have one of the biggest Korean stories in months and who does he link to?
Good going, Chung. You've certainly influenced some senior U.S. officials! A hard-liner can't find better allies than Chung Dong-Young and Kim Jong-Il!
With regard to hardliners on human rights, he is absolutely right. Chung could have treated Lefkowitz the way Richard Daley treated Martin Luther King but he chose to disregard him instead. It was certainly not Bull Connor galvanizing, but it was galvanizing enough for human rights supporters in Korea and the US.
Orackay answered with two points. The first was that the term attributed to Chung (that lefkowitz was 'not in the same league') was a serious mistranslation which should have read 'not of the same rank.' That would make sense to me. It seems to me that such an idiomatic phrase mind have come out from an overenthusiastic translator somewhere. I doubt that such a culturally loaded expression would have a home in two very different languages. However, Chung's snub was dumb in any language.
His second point was that complaining about the snub was basically the pot calling the kettle black because Lefkowitz later spoke at a rally in support of human rights in North Korea. However, part of Lefkowitz's mandate is to work with groups around the world on the issue. He was invited. He came. From what I have gathered, his message was not any different from his earlier speech at the Seoul Summit. Visiting government representatives publicly criticize the host government's policies all the time (witness Roh's LA speech). Opponents can trash the views expressed but quibbling about the exact location of that criticism (in a five-star hotel or at a vigil) is a bit of a red herring.
Needless to say, no IKKat fight is complete without a little bloodshed over at the Viper's Pit Marmot's Hole comment section.
BTW, if anyone who reads this can leave a comment with Oranckay (I keep forgetting my password), Please point out that the rallies were on Saturday and that Chung's snub took place on Thursday afternoon. That is not a criticism, just an FYI.
BTW 2, I will talk about the dynamics of Lefkowitz's vigil visit on Friday, if I have time.
Starting this spring, I'm going to be in the highly unusual (for me) position of being able to throw some money around. I'll put some of it into stocks and make a safe, but boring portfolio.
But I also want to sink a few bucks into the Dutch East Indies Company erh, Black Light Power Inc. I checked out their web page but the only investment options they seem to have are for business partners.
Are they or any of their major business partners publicly listed anywhere? I'm ready and able to lose a few hundred bucks for the 0.0000000000001% chance of being on the ground floor of something that would make the 'Microsoft millionaires" look small time by comparison if it works.
BTW, here is an interesting old article on the dangers of speculative investing in Asia. It includes a quote from Isaac Newton which will make sense of the 'Dutch East Indies Company' reference.