[KS] South Korea's Rollback of Democratic Rights

J.Scott Burgeson jsburgeson at yahoo.com
Thu May 7 13:24:33 EDT 2009

--- On Thu, 5/7/09, Michael Braverman-Scult <mbscult at gmail.com> wrote:

> However, also having been there, I can say that I witnessed
> only peaceful gatherings.

Really? Here is what I personally saw on 26 July 2008:


On that day the groups involved during the protest included Democratic Labour Party, New Progressive Party, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korean Teachers & Education Workers' Union, All Together, Chondaehyop, Agora, Anti-Lee Myung-bak cafe (administered by members of various opposition parties) and many others. Do you think this seemed like a "peaceful gathering"?

Here is what I witnessed personally during the protests over the Yongsan Incident earlier this year, which involved many of the same groups involved with the mad-cow protests of 2008:


Here is a more general discussion of how violence was being cynically used by the protesters during the mad-cow candlelight vigils last year:


I think any honest person, and certainly any scholar, should be aware at this point that the standard m.o. of these groups, which I generally characterize as the "progressive forces," is to regularly and consistently attack and provoke the police when they feel it is necessary or possible to inflame public opinion and rally support to their side. The police have been very patient over the past year and I have never seen them attack the protesters first. It is always the protesters who attack the police first, and then if or when the police respond, whether aggressively or minimally (and usually it is minimally), the protesters can then claim that they have been "attacked" and "suppressed" by the police, who are "denying democracy," and Lee Myung-bak is a "dictator," and it's the 1980s all over again. 

As a progressive myself, I find this whole strategy incredibly cynical, sad and most of all dishonest. Do these "progressive groups" really feel that they can build a forward-thinking progressive agenda while relying on such shameless tactics? Do they have no regard for such things as the truth and human decency? Should they not embody and practice the values they preach? Is it really humane and decent to beat up young military conscripts, even knocking them unconscious, and then on top of that pretend that you were actually the victim?  

Last Sat. was the one-year anniversary of the first mad-cow candlelight vigil. Of course the same groups were involved, since they were "celebrating" their own anniversary (but really just trying to create more propaganda images by provoking the police). In fact, Korea Alliance For Progressive Movement, which was referenced in the Hani article at the top of this thread, was one of the main architects of the entire candlelight protest movement, which on a fundamental level was an attempt to topple the Lee Myung-bak administration, thereby overturning the results of the previous elections of April 2008 and Dec. 2007. Does that seem very "democratic" to you?

The progressive forces in Korea may be able to fool a significant number of people here who only read the biased, white-washed "progressive" media, but they will not win the respect of any international progressives who have the inclination and ability to learn how they really operate, and how utterly lacking in integrity and honesty they have often proven themselves to be. As for international observers and scholars who have easy access to evidence that they choose to ignore or downplay, they lack just as much integrity and honesty themselves.

--J. Scott Burgeson, Chongno


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