[KS] Reminder: Statement from Professors in North America Concerned about Korean Democracy

don kirk kirkdon at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 11 00:40:04 EDT 2009

Clearly Professor Baker witnessed last summer and fall's demonstrations or he would not write with such conviction about them. He may not, however, have seen the thousands who assembled freely on the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall night after night. It's also possible he did not witness the protesters marching up Taepyong-ro toward Kwangwhamun. And he may not have stayed up past 10 or 11 or so when the demonstrators, on reaching Kwangwhamun, charged the policemen night after night, unreeling firehoses, tugging at ropes attached to police buses, trashing dozens of buses and injuring policemen. Or perhaps he would define a small minority as maybe several thousand engaged in such well meaning democratic robust skylarking for which the authoritarian government, blindfolded to democratic processes and rights since the landslide election of its president, refused to give permission. Or, as he indicates, he may define such scenes as witnessed for months on
 end as a "possibility," a non-happening or non-occurrence.
In the meantime, he is to be applauded for his stout defense of democratic traditions as carried on by the protesters. As for "the government which denies permission," he may be thinking of some other government since the one in Seoul has granted permission for hundreds of such events. Many thanks for this edifying account and, of course, apologies for daring to exercise the freedom of comparing the level of democracy in Seoul with, horrors, the good life up North, clearly deemed off limits in any such discussion.
Donald Kirk

--- On Wed, 6/10/09, BakerDon <ubcdbaker at hotmail.com> wrote:

From: BakerDon <ubcdbaker at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [KS] Reminder: Statement from Professors in North America Concerned about Korean Democracy
To: "Electronic Bulletin Board" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 2:06 PM

#yiv1566616389 .hmmessage P
#yiv1566616389 {

I was disappointed to see that the North Korea card is again being played against those who are calling for true democracy in South Korea. For decades, totalitarian rule in North Korea was used as an excuse for authoritarian rule in South Korea.  That was an illegitimate argument then and it remains an illegitimate argument today. Citizens of South Korea have the right to call for democracy in the government which rules their country without having to make any comparisons between their own government and one which does not govern them. Similarly, those of us living in North America have the right to call for true democracy in a government that is allied with our own without making any comparisons to a government which is not an ally. 

As for the complexity of the issues in dispute, it seems to me that freedom of assembly is essential in a true democracy. A government which denies permission for a peaceful protest is not acting in a democratic fashion. I don't see what is particularly complex about that. The possibility of violence by a few participants in that protest is not enough of a justification for denying the many who wish to engage in a peaceful protest the right to do so. 

Don Baker

Don Baker
Canada-Korea Business Council Chair 
Korean Civilization

Department of Asian Studies

University of British Columbia

Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z2

don.baker at ubc.ca

Date: Tue, 9 Jun 2009 19:17:12 -0700
From: kirkdon at yahoo.com
To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: Re: [KS] Reminder: Statement from Professors in North America	Concerned about Korean Democracy

Thanks to Scott Burgeon for passing on that commentary in the Korea Herald. That pretentiously overwritten statement that people are asked to sign assumes a self-righteousness that may not be altogether justified. It doesn't begin to recognize the complexity of the discussion, the existence of quite different views  -- or the often violent challenge posed for months by last year's anti-U.S.-beef demonstrators to the democratic principles they claim to uphold. Nor, as the Korea Herald commentary noted, would any such omniscient statement writers, in defense of the democracy they purport to love, consider for a moment decrying North Korea's violations of human rights, much less its nuclear and missile tests and the challenge they pose to democracy.. Heaven forbid such criticism would be relevant to any nefarious
 doings in the people's paradise where democracy reigns above mortal criticism.. 
Donald Kirk

--- On Tue, 6/9/09, J.Scott Burgeson <jsburgeson at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: J.Scott Burgeson <jsburgeson at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [KS] Reminder: Statement from Professors in North America Concerned about Korean Democracy
To: "Korean Studies Discussion List" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 8:53 PM

In the interest of "democracy" and "freedom of speech," a counterview on the subject of South Korea's allegedly disappearing democracy:


--J. Scott Burgeson,


-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://koreanstudies.com/pipermail/koreanstudies_koreanstudies.com/attachments/20090610/366ae481/attachment.html>

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list