Beef protests in Korea: street democracy, candlight vigils, storming barricade
Participants and observers are comparing the protests, marches and vigils to the solidarity movements in Europe and to the Korean democracy movement in the 1980's.
One focal point of the rising 'street democracy' movement is the wide stretch of freight container barricade blocking the main Gwanghwamun road leading to the presidential Blue House and government buildings.
Anti-US beef protesters numbering in the tens of thousands gathered in front of the barricade aka "Myung-bak Fort" (named after President Lee Myung-bak). They gathered to debate whether to take down the barricade or to continue peaceful protests. Speakers spoke for 7 hours from late Wednesday night to early Thursday morning.
Speakers ranged from movement leaders to any participant who wanted to have their say. OhmyNews reported on the marathon-debate:
어떤 이는 논리적으로 차근차근 이야기했고, 다른 이는 울분을 터뜨렸다. 청중은 견해에 따라 박수와 야유를 보냈다.
Trans. "Some spoke reasonably and thoughtfully, others broke down in tears. The thousands protesters cheered and booed throughout."
이런 토론이 한 곳에서만 벌어진 게 아니다. 여기저기 곳곳에서 열렸다. 컨테이너 경계선 안쪽에서 이명박 대통령이 잠들어 있었을 시간, 경계선 밖 광화문 사거리는 아크로폴리스 광장으로 변했고 그곳의 주인공으로 우뚝 선 시민들은 자기 말을 하고 남의 말을 들으며 밤을 지새웠다.
Trans. "These debates didn't just take place in front of the barricades, they happened all over. While President Lee Myung-bak slept across from one side of the barricade, on the other side of the barricade, the Gwanghwamun-intersection turned into the Acropolis square and citizens took centre state there, staying up all night debating with one another."
As speakers and demonstrators debated throughout the night, people started to carry in giant styrofoam blocks into the intersection. The styrofoam blocks were stacked-up one-by-one to create another barricade in front of the "Myung-back Fort." People argued that the Citizens' fort should top Myung-bak's Fort.
At the end, Myung-bak's Fort was not taken down.
국민들은 여전히 대통령과 소통의 부재를 느낀다. 11일 새벽 한 시민은 "앞으로 경찰의 저지선을 뚫지 말지를 <다음> 아고라에서 토론하고 결정하자"며 "다수가 결정하는 방향으로 모두 따르자"고 제안했다. 시민들은 환호와 박수를 보냈다.
돌아보면 시민들은 지난 한 달 동안 꾸준히 싸움의 수위를 높여왔다. 촛불문화제가 거리 시위로 이어졌고, "고시철회 협상무효" 구호는 "이명박 퇴진"으로 바뀌었다. 미국산 쇠고기 반대 촛불문화제와 거리 시위는 이제 새로운 국면에 접어들었다.
Trans. "Citizens complained of the lack of communication with the President. One citizen in the early hours of the morning spoke out: "We shouldn't storm the police barricades. Let's debate the issues on the Daum-Agora website with one another and then decide. And let's follow what the majority decides." The audience clapped and cheered in agreement.
"Looking back, there has been continual protests over the past month. The candlelight vigils have turned into street demonstrations. Calls for abandoning unfair negotiations have turned into calls for the President Lee's withdrawal and resignation. It is clear that these demonstrations have entered a new phase."
Find previous NowPublic coverage here.