Go to contents

Tea Party vs. Coffee Party

Posted March. 16, 2010 09:10,   


On Dec. 16, 1773, people disguised as Mohawk tribesman boarded three vessels of the British East Indian Company at Boston Harbor. For three hours, they dumped 342 chests of tea into the water. This was the Boston Tea Party that caused the American War of Independence. Most of those at the event were tea smugglers. The Boston Tea Party was retaliation by tea smugglers, who suffered a heavy blow after the price of tea supplied by the company plummeted due to the Tea Act passed by the British parliament in 1773.

The Boston Tea Party spurred a resistance movement against the British colonial government, which imposed a hefty tax. The movement was primarily led by the organization Boston Tea Party. A similar movement originated from that of 1773 has recently emerged in the U.S. The latest Tea Party Movement, with 110,000 members, wants small taxes and a small government. The spirit has something in common with that of the U.S. founding fathers, men who refused the heavy tax imposed by the British government. The new movement also criticizes the artificial economic stimulus policies of U.S. President Barack Obama. Supporters of the movement do not sit together over tea, but share opinions via online communities such as Twitter and Facebook.

Those opposed to the Tea Party Movement stand behind the Coffee Party Movement. The latter, driven by Korean American Annabel Park, supports “big government.” Its 120,000 participants have even held offline meetings at 370 coffee shops. The Coffee Party Movement shares features of France’s café culture back in the 1780s. French cafes were the cradle of the Enlightenment, where all kinds of information and ideas were exchanged, and turned into the driving force of the French Revolution. French historian Jules Michelet wrote, “French who gathered at cafes every day saw the sun of revolution emerge from their black beverages.”

Tea and coffee help people clarify their thoughts since they contain caffeine. They also help people to create networks and relations accordingly. Tea meetings in which people discuss political and cultural issues with fresh minds can help the health and social growth of Koreans. With a few months left before the June 2 local elections, many politicians have released populist promises that will put a financial burden on the country. The Korean people should consider which promises are reliable and good for the public and the nation over tea and coffee.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)