Archive for July, 2008

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National Victory March turned into National Camping Out Day.

July 5, 2008

According to some estimates, 400,000 to 500,000 citizens turned up in central Seoul on Saturday to attend a peaceful National Victory March. That itself is a great achievement for the movement against the Lee Myung-bak government, given the fact that just a week ago protesters were seriously considering taking self-defensive measures (read: steel pipes and bats) in response to police violence and brutality.

Saturday reminded many people of the early days of protest in May: there was no violence on either side. Police didn’t provoke protesters, and protesters didn’t attempt to march to the presidential Blue House. Instead, various cultural and protest activities took place all over the major streets of central Seoul.

And as the night deepened, a substantial number of people simply camped out on the streets:

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Unless the Lee Myung-bak government drastically changes its course of action and chooses to renegotiate over U.S. beef and give up on its privatization plans for national infrastructure industries, every Saturday will likely turn into a National Camping Out Day.

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National Victory March scheduled for Saturday

July 4, 2008

Following the Catholic priests and nuns who held a protest Mass at Seoul Plaza on Monday, Protestant pastors held a protest prayer meeting at the same place on Thursday.

And it was the Buddha’s turn on Friday: a thousand of Buddhist monks held a protest Buddhist service again at the same place in the presence of 30,000 citizens holding candlelights.

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The monks ingeniously recreated the famous “Candlelight Girl” character in the form of a Buddhist light—a sacred lamp Buddhists use for various religious purposes:

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On the heels of all these religious protest ceremonies comes a National Victory March on Saturday, which is expected to draw the biggest crowd since June 10 to central Seoul. Buoyed by support from various religious groups and organizations, many Koreans are increasingly confident that they will win this fight for health and human rights.

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Burger King confirmed to use the beef from cows older than 30 months.

July 4, 2008

Peter Tan, President of Burger King, Asia Pacific, has clarified on the age of the beef used to make hamburger patties sold in Burger King restaurants in the U.S. Dong-a Ilbo, a right-wing propagandist daily, published last month an op-ed article claiming that Burger King USA and McDonald’s USA use cattle over the age of 30 months for hamburger patties. In his letter to Dong-a Ilbo, Mr. Tan reversed Burgur King Korea’s denial of that claim, and confirmed that the beef Burger King USA uses for hamburger patties may come from cattle older than 30 months of age:

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Burger King Korea itself has issued a pop-up notice on Burger King USA’s official position, namely that the hamburger patties sold in Burger King restaurants in the U.S. “are made from 100 percent beef from healthy cows of all ages in accordance with strict U.S. federal regulations”:

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise given the fact that about 20% of the beef consumed in the U.S. comes from cows older than 30 months of age.

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New Progressive Party headquarters raided by a pro-government group.

July 1, 2008

The New Progressive Party (NPP) of Korea has been the most visible organization in the two-month long protests of Koreans against the Lee Myung-bak government. As noted before, NPP’s guerrilla media project called ColorTV enjoys a huge following among those Koreans who can’t participate in protest rallies in central Seoul in person for various reasons.

Around 10:30PM of July 1, several men apparently associated with HID, a pro-government extremist organization, raided NPP’s headquarters. According to those at the scene, the intruders went berserk shouting “We will kill Jin Joong-gwon and all the other commies of ColorTV”, and injured some party staff on duty. Jin is the political pundit who’s been serving nearly daily as the chief male reporter of ColorTV.

Lee Myung-sun, the chief female reporter of ColorTV, expressed her concerns over the safety of herself and the staff of ColorTV, but vowed to keep broadcasting candlelight vigils live till the last candlelight is put out.

One wonders whether this incident isn’t an indication that Lee Myung-bak and his right-wing extremist supporters have been caught by surprise by the recent turn of events.