A popular Korean Facebook blogger gives his view of recent protests. We have included the most popular responses to the post. Please note, the OP is from November, and does not include updates from more recent protests.
From Liberalism: [2015/11/13]
People’s Rally on November 14, 2015 – Who was it for?
Comments from Liberalism:
Carl F Lee
Do not beat policemen, you hypocritical anti-government bastards.
It seems they are upholding the spirit of Shin Tae-il [of AfreecaTV] instead of Jeon Tae-il [workers’ rights activist who set himself on fire in the 70s].
I am a belated college entrance exam taker in his mid 20s who has to take essay exams tomorrow. I am so worried that I might not be able to arrive at three different exam places on time because of the demonstration. I really hope they do not occupy roads and march illegally causing inconvenience to others. I hope they protest quietly and go home. It may be an important day for them but it is a very critical day in the lives of exam takers. They will not compensate us if they cause trouble to us anyway, will they? They will only blame the government for being incompetent again.
So there will be large demonstrations tomorrow? I hope the authorities show no mercy for them. The police will have to work hard. ㅠㅠ
Greedy pigs in dressed as the proletariat, tsk tsk.
Not all labor unions are commies but those guys are commies.
Nina Jaeeun Lee
Do they really have to hold demonstrations during the weekend right after the college entrance exam even though they know students will be busy moving around taking essay exams?
Look at issues like the American tank incident, moving American military bases to Pyeongtaek, mad cow disease, the Korea-US FTA, the four rivers project, Sewol, and the national history textbook revisions. No matter what the issue at hand is, they always end up demanding abolishment of the Korea-US alliance and the national security law. Their focus seems to change over time on the surface, but what they really demand in the end is abolishment of the Korea-US alliance and the national security law. Yet they complain that they are labeled as pro-North Korean.
At times like this, I really miss former President Roh Mu-hyun. He would’ve let policemen stomp protesters with shields. Of course, I curse him whenever I have to pay comprehensive real estate taxes. [This netizen is using irony implying Pres. Roh is highly regarded by many leftists but protesters were harshly suppressed during his time.]
They are all commies in the protest, right? Young or old, female or male.
Those who try to justify and advocate for them, please use your brain…
They tell people to rise up and overthrow our society, but what they do is pushing common workers into harm’s way for their own interests. Why should we get rid of our national security law? Why should we release well-behaved prisoners? Why should we tell the American military to leave Korea? Why should we remove the 5.24 measure? They say they fight for laborers while inserting these very red commie ideas in their list of demands. They should stop using innocent people in order to overthrow the nation and realize their red ideals.
Park Sae Hoon
Fuck off, prestigious noble labor unions. Such cancerous beings. Do they think they created labor unions just to feed their own greed? Some labor unions function properly, but those in the protests are not even real labor unions. They are cockroaches trying to take advantage of their unions only for their own interests.
From Liberalism: [2015/11/16]
Since when has freedom of demonstration become freedom to commit crimes?
There have been heated debates about the “People’s Rally” that took place in the Gwanghwamun area on November 14th. It is because of violence. As some predicted, the rally turned violent. Protesters gathered with various “weapons” such as metal rods, hammers, sticks, slingshots, torchlights, etc. and used them without hesitance. There was a protester who tried to explode a police bus by igniting the gas tank. There were those who dragged a policeman who dropped from the defensive formation. Extreme acts of some protesters almost exhibited murderous intentions. Protesters attacked the police as if they were waging a siege while policemen only had water cannons and tear gas to deter them. The policemen could only pray in fear that their shields will protect them.
After the siege that involved one-sided attacks, 50 police buses were damaged and about 100 policemen were injured. Despite this, opposition-affiliated media and politicians are going on about the police’s “excessive suppression”. The opposition party representative Moon Jae-in sternly said illegal protests will never be tolerated when he was a chief civil administrator during the Roh Mu-hyun administration. In contradiction to his past remarks, he said the Park government committed “murderously violent suppression”. The policemen were not even equipped with batons. The police defended their lines with their shields against the protesters wielding weapons. They used water cannons and tear gas only to prevent the protesters from advancing. If that was “murderously violent suppression”, what do we call what the protesters were doing?
Many people share in the criticism against the “People’s Rally”. 53 organizations mobilized 100,000 protesters. Many strongly felt the protest’s illegality and violence were problematic, let alone their absurd demands such as the release of Lee Seok-ki who was imprisoned for pro-North Korean rebellion conspiracy, abolishment of the National Intelligence Service, and the 5.24 measure against North Korean provocations. Many fell into despair witnessing how public authorities kneel down before such shameless crimes. Consider the fact that chairman Han Sang-gyun was instructing his protesters saying “Let’s paralyze this nation beyond Seoul”, “Occupy all streets in Seoul and march to the Blue House”, although he already received an arrest warrant. The police could not even attempt to arrest him. Can we say this country is ruled by law any more?
Some make various absurd claims in defense of the violent protest. One prime example is the claim that protesters had no other option than resorting to violence towards the police who illegally set up the bus walls, which was unconstitutional. Even without considering the fact that protesters were armed with various weapons in the first place, the claim doesn’t make sense. The bus walls were not unconstitutional. They bring up the precedent from June, 30th in 2011. However, the Constitutional Court stated that it was illegal for the police to maintain bus walls for four days even when there was no protest. They did not judge building bus walls itself was unconstitutional. Nowhere did they say it is unconstitutional to use bus walls in order to block illegal protesters.
Another absurd claim is that this protest was just like the 3.1 Movement or 4.19 Uprising. Since such righteous protests were classified as illegal and violent at that time, they say it is wrong to judge the protest only in that aspect. They are comparing the protest to the movements for independence or rule of law when there was no freedom of proper assembly and demonstration. They absurdly claim that their only method is to use violence in a free democracy where freedom of assembly and demonstration is guaranteed. This is a blatant insult to everyone who worked hard for this nation’s democracy.
Some leftist media showed photos of riots in developed countries and published an editorial implying the People’s Rally’s violence was no big deal. Of course, they did not mention anything about how those countries’ law enforcement suppressed such riots. It is even unpleasant to see them trying to justify violence in such a childish manner.
It seems for those who want to defend the protest, there is an underlying “obsession with protests”, which has been passed down from the military dictatorship era. They had traumatic experience when their voice was violently suppressed by the government. So even after one generation has passed since the foundation of democracy, they have Pavlovian animosity towards any criticism against protests. They stubbornly try to defend even indefensible, illegal violent protests.
Those who criticize the People’s Rally never oppose the act of protest itself. If the police try to suppress legal protests that have gone through proper procedures, the majority of our citizens including myself will try to fight the police in order to protect our sacred rights as democratic citizens. However, the People’s Rally was a criminal act in disguise of a protest. It should not be defended. The moment you defend those who wield metal pipes against innocent policemen, you taint all legitimate protests in the world. You should not dare mix our freedom of assembly and demonstration with freedom to commit crimes.
I want a “normal” country that is ruled by law. Fair application of law to everyone is the basis of the rule of law. Only when this is maintained, free democracy can exist and every citizen’s freedom and rights can be protected. I cannot help but lament the situation where an extremely normal attitude that cherishes law and criticize crimes is not considered normal.
Comments from Liberalism:
As someone who truly supports the opposition, this protest was really disappointing.
I want to try legally beating those who say it was a legal protest.
Of course, they ended up violating laws. They prepared and brought metal rods and ropes in the first place to use violence. It is frustrating to see those who advocate such acts. The rule of law applies to everyone. There are protesters who pretend they are some fighters for democracy under the banner of overthrowing the administration. They are going against the rule of law by trying to stomp on law. Why would you oppose arrest of the chairman Han? The police is trying to investigate his offences. Is this human some sort of emperor of the working class? Those who destroy democracy should not even mention democracy.
Those who bullshit that this protest shouldn’t have been blocked by mentioning the assembly and demonstration law, listen. There also exist laws for limiting such freedoms. You may want to get naked on a street and claim it is just your artistic expression, but that freedom is limited to meet all of society’s standards for decency. The freedom of demonstration is also limited. There are detailed regulations outlined in the assembly and demonstration law. There is no higher law than the constitution. However, constitutional freedoms can be limited by subsequent laws.
Everyone is sympathetic about the injured man in his 60s who was the Catholic Farmers’ Association’s vice chairman. Of course, everyone’s life is precious. If the police was at fault, they will do strict investigations. The police of Korea is not a cruel organization. However, those who try to take advantage of his serious injury for their propaganda are abandoning the value of progressives. If you only emphasize the scene of police violence in an attempt to suppress criticism towards violent protests. You have no right to care about his injury.
I wonder. Those who keep only saying freedom of demonstration is guaranteed by the constitution, did they ever read its supporting laws and enforcement ordinances?
True progressives should both point out problems with the police (using accurate facts) and reflect on violence of protesters. However no progressives are doing that. You just try to protect your allies even if they do bad things. This is a wrong alliance. For how long will you continue to keep your symbiotic relationship with pro-North Korean Juche ideologists and militant labor unions? No matter how bad they may appear to you, those who you can truly communicate with are rightists. There is a future for progressive politics only if you firmly oppose violence while protecting democratic values.
Everyone knows there are anti-government underground forces in disguise of progressives calling for justice and claiming they are neutral. Ignorant young people buy into their propaganda and get used by them. They did not plan a peaceful protest from the get-go. They were instructed to bring weapons. You are not supposed to hold a protest in Gwanghwamun in the first place. It was illegal from the beginning. Our nation is getting more and more divided and chaotic. Our children will ask us what we did back then. We are living in such a shameful era. History will judge us later.
The law exists to protect citizens. This site criticizes illegal protests but not illegal police acts. Distortion happens when you distort facts, but it also happens when you show only what you want to show. Is this site truly about liberalism? The law is not to oppress but protect freedom. That is the liberal notion of law. Trying to silence citizens’ voices against the government just because they did something illegal is authoritarian. It would be true liberalism to call out the government on suppression [of freedoms] as well as illegal and violent protests.
Doesn’t the fact that they brought bamboo spears and Molotov cocktails tell you they planned a violent protest in the first place? It wouldn’t make sense that they went home and created bamboo spears and Molotov cocktails and then came back because the police violently suppressed their activities first. Didn’t those protesters prepare to clash with the police and manipulate public opinion after they got retaliated against?
These idiots who act all cool are fucking disgusting. They try to divert attention from the root cause of the protest, using its illegal aspect. Why did 80,000 people come to the streets for a protest? What stances does the government have regarding the protesters’claims? Without considering these, you guys only go on about bad, violent protests. This is why this site is called Blue Ilbe that sucks up to the administration. Less than 0.1% of the police-estimated 80,000 protesters wielded weapons and tried to destroy bus walls. If the whole protest is called violent because of this, was there any large-scale protest that was not violent in our history? Kekeke.
People here try to put any protests from any groups they dislike in the mold of “violent protests”. They have no interest in what the protesters are really saying and turn a blind eye to authorities’ violence. If the protest is peaceful, they call it throwing tantrums, and if it gets aggressive, they call it a violent protest. That’s what they really want to say.
Seung Won Lee
In order to hold legitimate demonstrations, you have to stay away from the groups that have a lot of violent agitators. However, the reality is that it is them who organize and promote these protests. If their list of demands did not include those that raise an eyebrow for most citizens and their protest was peaceful, I don’t doubt it would’ve been received rather positively by the public.