Thursday, July 24, 2008

Flashbacks to the past

This is Lee Myung Bak with a 'mad' cow (note the dark rings around the eye) riding a time machine - and they've skidded into the '80s. And even the cow, the mad cow, is saying, exasperated : 'Aigo (untranslateable- maybe- Oh dear)- look, we've gone too far into the past.'

What happened in Korea in the '80s? Starting with the long-hidden civilian massacre at Kwangju in May 1980 by state paratroopers and US approval, followed by years of repression, arrests, and a fearsome police state during the Chun Doo Hwan regime, the background of the cartoon shows it right: masses of people gathered together, and the riot cops running after them, but also, the feeling of being on the horizon of something new and unprecedented...

I think the sheer scale of the vigils and the violence of the state response is astonishing to see but not totally unprecedented; It IS reminiscent of the June '87 uprising; the student and worker demonstrations turned 'necktie' revolution, when anyone and their mother walked into the street to call for democratization and an end to military dictatorship-

The indelible image of tens of thousands of people gathered in Seoul to protest the US beef import and Lee Myung Bak's neoliberal yes-man persona is not something that can be blamed away, and yet the government has been targeting certain groups as masterminding the vigils.

So along with arresting or drafting arrest warrants for individuals of certain organizations and even those who WRITE about the arrest or the issue (link), JUST TONIGHT the police surrounded the building of KCTU- the major labor confederation of trade unions- with arrest warrants for its 3 top officials. The standoff is still ongoing... Link

And the parallels to the '80s keep on growing...

1 comment:

Billy said...

The history is still happening.