Thursday, August 21, 2008

Short-form Reflections

Now that KEEP is officially over, though unofficially we're still going to be visiting some organizations again, I'm going to take a moment to reflect.

The first thing that I was struck by in meeting all of these progressive, anti-imperial, and anti-US organizations was the intensity of their movement. These are people who will patiently and diligently hold a rally once a week outside of the US base for 17 years knowing that change does not come quickly. The Eradicators started their rallies with little support from the general Korean public while facing a society that supported the American troops in Korea. At this point, they've built awareness, fought battles and created connections to anti-US occupation movements in many parts of the Pacific Rim including Okinawa, the Philippines, Guam and Hawaii.

The other thing that struck me is how easy it was for me to miss all of this 투쟁, all of this struggle, on my other visits to my mother's land. Contrasting a tourists' visit to Korea, or even a typical Korean American's visit, to the collective experience that I've just had is more than just night and day. It's startling and yet somehow to be expected. During the weeks that I've been here I've seen more protests, sit-ins, demonstrations and rallies that I would have in months in the US. But the control of media, the insidious neoliberal goverment policies and the general apathy that I've also seen here makes clear to me how difficult it is for movements to gain ground and grow.

The final thing I'll mention before grabbing dinner: Lee Myung Bak tried to institute an "English Only" policy in the public school system. How twisted is it that 63 years after Japanese occupation ends the head of this "democratic" nation replicates that model with it's new colonial master? It makes me more than a little sick just thinking about it because it's harder to fight something like that than it is to fight a very clearcut imperial presence.

The real final thought that I'll expand more on later: Nationalism and it's role in Korean movement culture.

Thanks for tuning in folks. I'll have better posts with more pictures as the days go on. I thought it would be important to get some thoughts out first though. Also, most of this will be coming from memory since I lost my notebook with all my notes in it. Bear with me if it seems like I'm not sure of some of the details.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


wow. i don't know if there are words that can express this experience...
i have so much on my mind sometimes it hard to breathe. the tears and laugher and the sheer intensity of everything is just.....
... i am not going to go into detail right now but its "frikkin intense man" like my comradista 유니콘 (unicorn) would say. haha. anywho for now i just want to clarify that the post below is a statement of solidarity that we delivered to 민가협 (Mingahyup) today... they're an organization of women who fight for rights of political prisoners. mostly mothers and wives of political prisoners... yet another intense experience....
호리쉬트! ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ

thats all for now folks. stay tuned.....

In solidarity with families of long-time political prisoners.

We the Korean Exposure and Education Program, KEEP, stand with you today in solidarity for our shared struggle against the National Security Law and criminalization of political dissenters and democracy activists.

We join the call for the basic human right to organize, for freedom of thought, and freedom of assembly. We condemn the illegal denial of due process for arrested activists and the brutal torture of activists fighting for social change. We see this issue as not only affecting the wrongly convicted and their families, but also the larger family of Koreans here and overseas, and the larger human family to which we all belong.

Your struggle inspires us in our struggle in the U.S. against the Patriot Act, torture, and the inhumane and immoral treatment of so-called terrorists who are invented. Further, in Canada, Security Certificates have been used targeting Muslim men who are seen as threats to national security. They are being held without charge or bail and have been placed in solitary confinement indefinitely.

We ask how democracy can be a democracy under these circumstances, when it releases white collar corrupted criminals but not those fighting for the truth?

We call for the humanity of all people. To rectify the decades of their lost youth, the tears of sleepless children, the fear theat infects their partners, and paralyzes all of us to work side-by-side for a greater society.

We share hope and extend our hearts toward you, the families, and to you, the wrongly convicted, that you remain strong. In solidarity, we will struggle, and in solidarity, we will find justice.

We are with you!


Friday, August 1, 2008

To Jirisan! 지리산으로 간다!

DAY 1, August 3: KEEP 2008 starts by heading from Seoul to Jirisan, or Jiri Mountain, historic site of partisan guerilla fighting against the US military government in Korea (1945-48) and the beginning days of the Republic of Korea through the Korean War (1950-53). It is a mountain full of ghosts, full of history, lost lives, countrypeople who supported the resisters and were killed in turn. And when people like Korean movement activists climb the mountain, it is not just for the views, the fresh air, the water flowing down the slopes. They go there to remember.