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[Opinion] `Hot-Blooded Citizens`

Posted August. 30, 2008 03:26,   


It is easy to see masked protestors covering their faces with caps while throwing a flurry of kicks and wielding iron pipes against riot police in the midst of candlelight vigils. They used to disappear before police launched a crackdown only to reappear at another rally. Some shot iron balls at police using a slingshot. On Aug. 9, a group of violent protestors threw small bottles filled with hydrochloric acid at a candlelight rally staged near Myongdong Cathedral. The potency of the chemicals was high enough to burn skin or cause blindness.

Most of the six protestors arrested that night were either unemployed or homeless. They met at rallies and organized a group called “Hot-blooded Citizens” in June, giving themselves titles such as president, adviser, chief of staff and spokesman. They made elaborate plans and called each other nicknames such as “Idiot” and “Helmet.” They all agreed to say they were funded and asked to provoke violent demonstrations by the ruling Grand National Party and the “New Right” group if arrested by police. They are “cunning fools.”

Police say the protesters admitted to staging violent demonstrations due to their discontent toward society and anger against the world and the rich. In France, union members or students use violence by secretly participating in peaceful demonstrations as “Casseur,” which means destroyers or a group of people disgruntled over society. They blame all their faults and misfortunes on the government and society. Of course, the government, which has failed to create enough jobs, and the weak social safety net are partially responsible for their situation. This, however, is no excuse to absolve themselves of their responsibilities.

Hot-blooded Citizens got pocket money and expenses from protesters by asking them to fund their hard-line stance. Some protesters bought them meals, alcohol and cigarettes to encourage their activities. But the real problem lies with the leaders of the People`s Association for Measures against Mad Cow Disease, who have been hiding at Jogye Temple, since they encouraged protesters to resort to violence. The ruling party will revise the law on assembly and protests so that those wearing masks in a demonstration are punished. The new bill is worth a careful look in the interest of protecting peaceful demonstrations.

Editorial Writer Kwon Soon-taek (maypole@donga.com)