Go to contents

[Opinion] June 13 Election, Continuation of June 10 Rally

[Opinion] June 13 Election, Continuation of June 10 Rally

Posted June. 12, 2002 23:37,   



Ji-Yon Shim, professor of politics at Kyungnam University

The energy and the roar of the red crowd that filled the square in front of Seoul City Hall and Kwanghwamun Street was a piece of drama that showed the potential of Korea without bounds. From young students to graying gentlemen, from little children in arms of their mothers to tall man in Hidink mask, they were drenched in the pouring rain to cheer for the national team each time our soccer players showed up on the screen. It was such a drama, we could feel our hearts stop with emotion. It was a historical performance that showed the confidence that we can do anything.

But what made us more proud was the fact that on the very spot, we demonstrated against the military dictatorship to draw out the June 29 declaration. That day in 1987, the square in front of the Seoul City Hall and Kwanghwamun Street were filled with at least the same number of people, and the roar shook the sky. In the square filled with tear gas, college students chanted, “Down with dictatorship, we want direct election.” In the midst, they sang and white-collar workers followed with the songs “March for the Loved One” and “Old Soldier’s Song.” This was the beginning of the long June struggle, and with this we were able to take our first step in democracy of political reform.

15 years have passed, and it is 2002. The crowd that filled the same space are now under a very different atmosphere. But like then, the air is filled with determination. However, it is not anger against another, but determination to win in a fair competition. Everyone old and young sang along with “Must Win Korea” and “Arirang.” People of all nationality clapped and chanted “Korea.” Once again, we were able to cry to the world, “We did it.” It was a moment when all those that fractured the nation healed, and we became one.

In order to not let the cry fade without result, it is all the more important to successfully host the World Cup and strengthen our democracy. We must not let the stadiums we built at high cost to be shunned by people, while we need to nurture the democracy that was sown in the June Struggle to bear fruit.

Utilizing the stadiums begin with finding ways to attract people to them. When the stadiums are treasured by people through their events, the first World Cup win will be forever etched in their minds. Likewise, strengthening democracy also requires people’s attention and participation. In this light. the significance of the regional election in the June 13 election can be summarized as the following three.

First, the regional elections were not freely given, but they were the fruits of the struggle through all the hardship. We must not forget that the regional autonomy was a result of the tears and cries of 15 years ago at that very place. We must treasure it because won it for our struggle against injustice and oppression. Because of this, we must actively participate in the election.

Second, regional government need our attention and participation to become fully functional as children need the attention and love from their parents. If the people do not care or participate, inequity and corruption will take place, and the people will have to bear the burden. In order to cut loose the vicious chain, people need to participate.

Third, if regional governments gain the support of the people as the government that serves the people through participation, the central government cannot but follow. Starting reform with regional governments where people can exercise more influence, we can lead the wave of reform to the central government. This is the shortest path to political advancement.

If we can call the World Cup as the event that catalyzed the healing of social disunity, the local election can be the catalyst that fuels the political advancement. We must utilize the local election as a tool to complete political change and reform through active participation