Jul. 02  2022
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People's movement against U.S. military in south Korea

On Saturday, December 7, after a large rally in downtown Seoul, thousands took to the streets and turned down one blockade of riot police units after another.

Source  :  Base21

by Christian/Base21 Media Activist

More than three weeks--directly after the aquittals of the suspected GIs who killed two Korean schoolgirls in a road accident--a real mass movement against US troops has started here.

In the beginning, hundreds of protesters demanded a direct apology from President George W. Bush to the Korean public, but only a short while later, thousands demanded justice in the case of the killings.

On Saturday, December 7, after a large rally in downtown Seoul, thousands took to the streets and turned down one blockade of riot police units after another. In the end, around 20,000 demonstrators broke down the last of the cop lines--even 10,000 riot cops couldn't stop them--and occupied the area in front of the U.S. embassy in the South Korean capital.

After this real victory we can now say a people's movement has taken over the scene. Last week, teachers, Christians and Buddhist monks on a hunger strike, unionists, artists, doctors, farmers and street sellers started to join the movement. The national basketball team signed a protest petition. The famous Yoon Do-hyeon Band, who performed a very popular hit during the Word Cup, gave a solidarity concert in the area near the U.S. embassy where since November 30th, candlelight vigils have taken place every evening. Top singer Lee Jung-hyun also joined the demonstrations. She said: "We, as popular artists, have to call to all our people to take part in the nation-wide protests." Last Saturday came the latest highlight: besides 50 other south Korean cities, in Seoul alone, nearly 100,000 people demonstrated for justice in the case of the two schoolgirls and agaist the U.S. military presence in the country. A student from Yonsei University in Seoul said, "Why should we only change the SOFA? Just kick out the American troops from the Korean peninsula!"

After a large rally in front of City Hall--during the World Cup, hundreds of thousands celebrated here the victories of the south Korean team--tens of thousands marched in the direction of the U.S. embassy. According to JoongAng Ilbo, 23,000 riot cops received an order to block the way to the embassy. But after the experience from the weekend before, they no longer trust their own man power. So they used large trucks to block the entrances. But the demonstrators took again to Seoul's largest avenue Gwanghwamun-no nearby the U.S. embassy and set up another strong rally. Again the atmosphere was like a huge party with strong speaches and a lot of music.

Beside this victory--and it was a real victory, even though they couldn't reach the embassy directly--there are some concerns among the activists. "I really worry that it will turn into a nationalist movement. Even in our organization we've had a few people go this way. We have to fight against this nationalism," said Jo Ji-yeong from the Democratic Labour Party's youth wing, All Together. A Korean anarchist said, "I see quite a lot of people here saying they feel proud to be Korean." But in all the discussions with the participants of the protests, many of them promised, "We are not against the American people. We're against American policy".

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