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Chaotic Washington gives an impression on a Korean family

Chaotic Washington gives an impression on a Korean family

Posted October. 15, 2013 05:55,   


When Lee Chang-geun, a Korean radiologist at Sejong Hospital in Bucheon, 44, arrived in the middle of Washington with his family on Monday morning, U.S. veterans started protests at a square in front of the White House.

A veteran carrying a sign “Return the U.S.” said frustratingly, “What ruined the country that we had defended?” Protesters for the “Million Vet March on the Memorials” were about to move from the National Mall to the White House. They gathered to criticize incompetent politicians’ self-righteousness and obstinacy on the 13th day from the federal government shutdown, four days before a potential crisis date of U.S. government shutdown on Oct. 17.

Lee, who came to the University of Utah two months ago for training, arrived in New York on Saturday night and drove to Washington on early Monday morning to spend Columbus Day. He was going to head for Niagara Falls on Monday night. He squeezed a short stay in Washington in his tight schedule just because he wanted to show his two sons – 12-year-old Yeong-jae and nine-year-old Yeong-jun – the heart of the world’s democracy. In Washington, however, citizens’ complaints against political conflicts between Democrats and Republicans were about to be expressed in words and burst into action.

Hundreds of veterans tore down the barricades in front of the World War II Memorial and clashed with police, chanting “Impeach Obama” outside the White House. When the members of the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” honked their horns, police controlled main roads causing a serious traffic jam.

“I’ve never imagined Washington could be like this,” Lee said, adding, “As political fights get serious, the U.S. seems not much different from Korea.” Yeong-jae, who wanted to see the bones of mammoths at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History for himself, and Yeong-jun, who wanted to see tropical fish at the National Aquarium in the basement of the building of the Treasury Department near the White House, had to give up their hope. Jeon Hyeong-joo, Lee’s wife and high school teacher, 41, said, “I expected a good field trip for my kids but it’s disappointing. Instead, I should be satisfied with witnessing a chapter of the US, the world’s superpower in a financial crisis.”

As national museums and art museums with free admission fees closed due to the federal government shutdown, visitors had to visit private museums instead. Lee’s family went to the International Spy Museum in the afternoon but gave up due to a long waiting line. It cost 20.95 dollars for adults and children age 12 or older and 14.95 dollars for children age 7 or older. Worse, they went to the Washington Harbor for dinner but could not see the Potomac River because the Washington city government surrounded the area with two-meter high waterproofing fences due to days of rain.

Lee’s two sons complained, saying, “Washington is suffocating.” Washington was confusing and unfamiliar to Lee’s family. It was not easy for Lee to explain his two sons who spent a puzzling day in Washington why the world is concerned about the bankruptcy of the world’s superpower.