[KS] candlelight demonstrations in Korea and the beef deal issue

J.Scott Burgeson jsburgeson at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 13 03:12:51 EDT 2008

For some reason I am not getting all the posts on this thread, but in any case according to the List archives Ronda Hauben still has not answered the two questions I put forward to her several days ago about the accuracy of two of her claims and the sources she used.

Alice Kim seems to think I am "anti-left" but that is an incorrect assumption. I am actually an anarchist politically. I simply want to support factual reporting and the truth, as I have seen a lot of distortions on the ground as far as media coverage goes (I live in Chongno-1-ga and have been attending the demonstrations almost nightly): I personally was misquoted by Hankyoreh on this the beef issue and even after I visited their offices and complained they refused to print a retraction; TV reporters forced an American friend of mine to utter the words "I believe" in Korean after they found his ambivalent views on US beef imports not to their liking, thereby reducing him to an instrument of mere propaganda; and I have seen photos arranged and altered by journalists at the demonstrations to increase their propandanda value. Such improprieties are not a matter of "left" or "right" in my opinion. So if Ronda Hauben wants to criticize the conservative press
 here for being biased she should make sure she gets her facts straight herself, since it is distortion of facts that has helped inflame passions on this issue in an often very unhelpful manner.

About the issue of violence at the protests mention by another poster, I was there last Sat. night when things got especially violent. Up in Anguk, the pipe wielders (actually they used giant orange pipe wrenches) who smashed police bus windows were several male high schoolers who seemed more like punks just looking to stir things up; down in Kwanghwamun, the police were actually taunting the protesters verbally and throwing bottles at them for the first time (one even looked like a 2-litre bottle full of urine, although it may have been borich'a) which provoked the demonstrators and helped contribute to the nastiness later on. That said, I have a Korean friend who witnessed a man whom she was almost certain was an undercover policeman (because of dress and hairstyle) encourage another female protester to go up on stage and voice her opinions against the government. Indeed, a common rumor is that government agents are infiltrating the demonstrations and
 inciting violence themselves, in order perhaps to discredit the movement and turn the general public against it. There are various factions and forces at work here and not everything is clear at this point, but I do think it's safe to say that there is an element of manipulation and behind-the-scenes string-pulling going on here, whether people want to admit it or not. And certainly unethical and distorted reporting is one element contributing to such manipulation of public sentiment at the moment.

--Scott Bug


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