Saturday, July 05, 2008

the streets are full again

Well, the protests are back on with about estimates of 80,000 -- 400,000 on the streets (looks around 200,000 from the pic below. Here's a link to more pics at the OMN site.

This one is from around 10pm.

This group seems to be international these days; a youth subculture, in Canada they seem to focus on protesting scientology.

Early evening.

I haven't heard anything about the 'anti-protest' that was planned. I think they were probably drowned, exponentially.


  1. Jamie, most protesters I spoke with estimated the crowd to be between 60,000 to 80,000. It would be wise to get police figures and then leftists media estimates and then split the difference.

    I spoke with a couple of those V for Vendetta protesters, who had formed a long military line in front of the police-bus barricade on Taep'yongno at about 6pm. I asked the leader (in a black cape and Guy Fawkes mask like all the rest) who was holding up a giant black flag with the V-anarchy symbol, "Are you anarchists?" (in Korean) and he said, "No, we are not." I said, "So what are you?" and he said, "We are democrats." I continued, "But that movie is about anarchism, you're really not anarchists?" and he said no. I repeated the same conversation with several other participants ("We are not anarchists") and finally one guy told me to get out of the way because I was interfering with their "photo opportunity" and to be sure, the media were eating the spectacle up and snapping away.

    Certainly the movie ends with an army of black-caped and masked anarchists marching on Parliament in London and watching it being blown up. When you dress up in exactly the same costuming and form a military line at an anti-government demonstration, you have to be an idiot not to understand what sort of message you are trying to invoke. It is possible to argue that anarchism is a form of radical democracy, but to just say, "We are democrats" misses the point enirely. Everyone from Kim Jong-il to George W. Bush says they are democrats. That's not the point is it?

    The point is not to be such bloody, clueless posers, as far as I see it.

    BTW, I have been surprised not to see any anarchist flags or groups at these demos. What happened to them? A few years ago I often saw them on Chongno during larger worker rallies and whatnot.

  2. Hey Scott,

    It is some kind of youth subculture that are also here an protest scientology. It's like goth or something they also protested a women's group and some other organization. I don't think they actually understand the story, guy fawkes, or anarchism but have just appropriated the imagery based on some collective identification with that film. They have some global website they coordinate from and which is probably on there banner.

    Weird huh, there are like the new goths or something.

    The protest did look big, I figured that was an around the country figure. But it looks close to 200 000 in that picture. I guess it depends what the sidestreets are like.

  3. Jamie, I have to say that at this point, this whole protest movement can be characterized as the Korean left being sore losers.

    They fucked up in the last elections (Dec. '07 and April '08), but that's their fault not Lee's. An equivalent analogy would be if a runner lost a marathon race because he didn't prepare or train hard enough beforehand, and then blamed the winner for his loss.

    Again, at this point they're simply being sore losers. Everyone knew what Lee was about prior to the Dec. election. The progressives and the left here have no one to blame but themselves.

    Last night people were telling me in all seriousness that Lee needed to be assassinated.

    Very, very classy, eh?

  4. Scott, once again, there are many aspects of the picture. Reasons someone from the UDP (who are centrists not leftists) might have to protest versus someone from the buddhist church, or school kids, or an E-Land worker are different and have nothing to do with the electoral strategy of what you call the 'left.' By calling everyone a sore loser you undermine what role a 'social movement' might have in this case and limit investigation into the variety of voices attempting to represent themselves in however way, unless, of course, you don't believe that social movements are valid forms of organization, in which case you should argue that, but then you will be left with the task of why representative democracy experiences dissent and how it should deal with it, not a bad task, but one I don't see you doing.

    Certainly there are problems with a mobilization based form of organization, and that is why particular movements try to institutionalize themselves, but its not a perfect game and thus I think you should try to organize comments more into what you think the pros and cons of continued mobilization might be, not simply in regard to weird dynamics and public opinion but in terms of actual policy changes.

  5. Jamie, the protesters have forced Lee to make significant concessions, so I think that is a positive effect of this movement. But after two months, how much longer can they keep going and to what end? It's impossible to talk reason with some of these people since no matter what Lee does, they always say, "We can't believe him, we can't trust him." I always repond, "I can't trust any government." They seem to have this utopian goal of ultimately having him tossed out of the Blue House which I do find anti-democratic. And I always thought the beef issue was kind of retarded, and I am disgusted by much of the hypocrisy I've seen on the liberal media side of this phenonmenon, hence my great ambivalence. Every time I've tried to point out basic facts, I've heard nothing but excuses and distortions from many of the protesters and their supporters.

    The two principles I've held sacred in all this are truth and democracy, but I do not really think this movement has been based solidly on them. For this reason, I think it's time for them to shut up and focus on the future. In my opinion, progressives here need to focus on getting US troops out of Korea and then get the reunification ball rolling again. Only then will Korea be a normal, mature country. Those are the most important issues, not fucking mad cow nonsense!