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.