Archive for the ‘News items’ Category

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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.

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“The darkness has never won against the light.”

June 30, 2008

As we reported the other day, the National Action Week against the South Korean government’s publication of guidelines on U.S. beef imports witnessed a lot of pain, suffering and blood on the part of peaceful protesters.

In response, about 300 Catholic priests and 200 nuns took to the street on Monday, and held a public protest Mass in central Seoul:

The priests and nuns called to the government for renegotiating over U.S. beef, firing Uh Chung-soo, the head of the National Police Agency, and releasing all the citizens arrested so far. And they called to the citizens for maintaining the principle of nonviolence.

Quoting John 1:5, they declared that “the darkness has never won against the light”. Tens of thousands of citizens attending the Mass burst into applaud and cheers in agreement.

Upon finishing the Mass and the ensuing protest march, some of the priests began a fasting protest at Seoul Plaza:

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Also, the priests announced their plan to hold a protest Mass everyday at 7:00PM at Seoul Plaza.

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All 14 members of a human rights committee resign in protest against police violence.

June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, the second day of the National Action Week, was again filled with police violence, including use of water canons against peacefully protesting citizens:

Among a countless number of physical abuses by police stood out this case:

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He is Ahn Min-seok, a member of the national assembly. According to the United Democratic Party—the leading opposition party Ahn is affiliated with—and news reporters present at the scene, Ahn was surrounded and attacked by police while trying to keep police from arresting citizens around 1 a.m. of June 27.

All 14 members of the human rights committee of the Korean Police Agency resigned in protest against police violence of the 26th. The fact that the committee comprises both conservative and liberal people indicates that concern is widespread over police’s treatment of protesters.

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All records broken in approval ratings.

June 16, 2008

As we reported earlier, Lee Myung-bak was already breaking records in approval ratings for South Korean presidents.

Miraculously, though, the bottomless fall of Lee Myung-bak continues.

According to a monthly poll taken by Naeil Shinmoon, a daily evening newspaper, and Hanghil Research, a polling company, Lee now holds an approval rating of 7.4 percent. (That’s the combined percentage of very good and good. The other three options were: so-so, poor and very poor). No, it’s not a typo. Lee managed to achieve a single digit approval rating in four months after taking office. I’m willing to bet it’s a record in the history of presidential approval ratings the world over.

Some other numbers worth noting: 88% of respondents have said that renegotiation over U.S. beef imports is necessary. And 71.5% of Korean citizenry think positively about candlelight vigils and rallies.