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[Editorial] Two Seoul Gatherings Are a Study In Contrasts

[Editorial] Two Seoul Gatherings Are a Study In Contrasts

Posted November. 14, 2005 03:07,   


There were two contrasting scenes in the middle of Seoul yesterday. In Jongno, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions occupied a wide roadway and held a national workers’ rally to commemorate its 10th anniversary. Right next to the rally, accompanied by loudspeakers, many were having an outing in Cheonggyecheon.

The rally had about 7,000 participants (estimated by the police), and about 7.000 combat police officers from 82 companies accompanied them. Printed material scattered on the ground included slogans such as: “opposition to invasion of Iraq, immediate withdrawal of expeditionary forces” and “removal of army bases.” The copies had no explanations about how the workers’ right to live relates to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of the U.S. army bases stationed in Korea.

The group dance performed by 10 male and female workers on the platform drew people’s attention. They danced to a song titled: “To the world of workers and equality” wielding metal pipes, and then picked up red flags instead.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, founded in 1995, is being operated by an emergency committee after the scandal regarding the sales of job openings made by big companies’ unions and the transfer of money and other articles among the executives broke out. Accordingly, the chairman of the committee, Lee Su-ho, resigned.

No voices of self-examination and internal reform was heard in the rally on that day, however. The participants cried out “Let’s root out the suppression of the authorities and the capital.” Their behavior that broke the peace on the weekend and disturbed traffic cannot be seen as exercising self-discipline.

Even though speakers tried hard to promote a combative spirit, facial expressions of citizens who got irritated because of the traffic jams caused by the rally were more noticeable.

The problem the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions faces is that its agenda is growing apart from the people’s hearts and minds.

Even in a cold weather, 250,000 flocked to Cheonggyecheon. There was a water flow of the environment and peace. The order was not disturbed, and waste papers were not scattered all over. No citizen was agitated to the cries coming from Jongno. There were only matured civil consciousness keeping the society in order, the social peace and the importance of families.