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Korea: Myungbak Castle

The biggest candlelight vigil against policies of the new government started from the US-Korea beef trade was over on the 10th of June. Hot issues now are how the government reacted to the demonstration and how demonstrators responded to the government.

The protests come on the 21st anniversary of demonstrations in 1987, seen as pivotal in South Koreans’ struggle for democracy, and during the day, the government put 60 container boxes, welded them together, put sand in the container boxes, thrusted iron cores in the ground, and put lubricating oil on the surface of the boxes in downtown Seoul where the candlelight vigil was planned to start in the afternoon. Some 20,000 riot police were mobilized in Seoul, and thousands more elsewhere in South Korea, ahead of Tuesday night's large protests.

Unlike the government and some people’s expectation that there would be physical violence, several hundred thousand demonstrators, as they promised each other, successfully finished the demonstration without any blood. Netizens are excited about the successful democratic expressions of citizens. Barricades that the government made in order to block the road to the Blue House where the president works are criticized and satirized by netizens.


Well Connected Container Boxes

Netizens named the barricade and put it in wikipedia.

명박산성(한자: 明博山城)은 2008년 6월 10일 6.10 민주화 항쟁 21주년을 맞아 한미 쇠고기 협상 내용에 대한 반대 시위의 일환으로 서울 도심에서 100만 촛불 대행진이 계획되자, 경찰이 시위대의 청와대 진출과 전경과의 대치를 원천 차단하기 위해 도심 곳곳에 설치한 컨테이너박스 바리케이드를 뜻하는 말이다. 대한민국 네티즌과 시위대가 풍자의 뜻으로 사용하기 시작하였지만, 신문 기사 등에서 인용하면서[1] 널리 알려지기 시작하였다. 또한 주요 외신에도 컨테이너 장벽의 사진이 보도되었다.

Myung Bak San Seong (Myung Bak Castle) means a barricade which was made by container boxes in major streets in order not to let demonstrators encounter police troops after participants in the candlelight vigil who protested against the US-Korea beef trade and celebrated the 21st anniversary of the 6.10 Democratization Protest on the 10th of June, 2008 plan for a big march to the Blue House. At first, netizens and demonstrators used the term as innuendo, but later on newspapers quoted it and it started being used in common. Foreign media also reported the photos of the Container Wall.

Netizens are happy about the result of the demonstration.

감사하다.오늘 아침 신문을 보면서 그들이 밤새 저기서 열띤 토론을 통해 결국은 넘지 않기를, 우리는 이성적인 판단에 따라 자제할 수 있음을 보여주었다니 너무나 감사하다. 멋지다.

I appreciate it. Reading today’s newspaper, I knew that they decided not to climb over (the barricade) after they went through enthusiastic discussions. Seeing that we could control ourselves by reasonable and logical thoughts, I appreciate it. Awesome.

Many netizens point out that the Myungbak Castle led more people to participate in the demonstration.

지난 한달…대한민국의 화두는 ‘소고기’ 였다. 개인적으로 소고기에 반대하는 것이야 당연하지만 그것과 별개로 지금 이 상황은 ‘소고기'자체가 더이상 문제가 아닌 것 같다. 단순히 소고기 때문에 이렇게 사람이 모인다는 것도 아니고, 소고기가 뿅~하고 해결된다고 사람들이 그냥 쓩~하고 사라질 것 같지도 않다.

누가 말하듯이.. 소통의 문제..

6월 10일의 축제(?)에 참여를할까 말까 고민하다가….친구녀석의 ‘역사의 한 순간을 즐기자~'란 말에 혹해서 먼 길을 나섰다[…]

Last month, the topic of Korea was ‘beef.’ In my personal opinion, I’m also opposed to beef, but the current affair is not just about ‘beef.’ Due to beef, so many people simply don’t gather together so much. The issue related to the beef will be solved well, but that doesn’t mean all people will be quite either.

Like somebody said… the problem of communication…

I was wondering whether I will participate in the festival of the 10th of June… After my friend said, ‘Let’s enjoy the moment of history~,’ I decided to leave the path.[…]

Through this demonstration, many netizens comment on the significant meaning of this event to ask what is democracy and what are the right of citizens. Steps that participants made in order to climb on the container boxes showed what they wanted was not being against the government in a riot, but being in mutual communications they want with the government.


Stryofoam steps. How they’re built.

Participants who would like to avoid physical fights “Riot police don’t have guilt” and “Peaceful Demonstration and non-violence.”

솔찍히 저 컨테이너가 쌓일 때부터 어떻게든 올라갈 방법을 찾아낼 거라고 예상하긴 했습니다만, 이 스티로폼의 계단이 단순히 몇몇 과격분자들의 의지 표명이 아닌, 촟불집회를 위해 나가신 수많은 분들의 논쟁과 토론에 의해 얻어진 결과라는 사실에 찡 했습니다. 대화를 통해서 해결해야 한다고들 교과서에선 질리도록 배우지만,흔히들 토론이나 논쟁이라고 하면, 인상을 찡그리고 피곤한 표정을 짓습니다.그도 그럴것이, 자기주장이나 자기의지가 굉장히 강한 현대인들 사이에서 논쟁이나 토론이 일어나게 되면, 상대방의 입장에대한 수긍이나 긍정을 굉장히 보기 힘들기 때문입니다, 이러다보니 상대방에 대한 이해나 긍정보다는 자기는 무조건 옳고 상대방이 틀렸다는 것을 전젱로 아무런 진전없는 말싸움과 인신공격만이 계속될 때가 많기 때문입니다. 하지만 그런 논쟁과 토론이 눈꼼만큼씩이라도 전진해서, 결국 서로가 타협할 수 있는 교차점을 찾아낸다면, 그것은 정말 성공이라고 할 수 있겠죠, 아무리 험악해보여도 토론은 어디까지나 평화적인 “대화”니까 말이죠 ^^평화로운 대화로 좋은 결과를 얻었다는게 정말 감격입니다. 그게 진정한 평화 민주주의겠죠.

Honestly, I assumed that people would try to find a way to climb over the container boxes when they had been piled up during the day. But when I learned that steps of styrofoam were built up after arguments and discussions by participants, not by a few extreme elements, I was really impressed. Even though we learn that problems should be solved by dialogue in textbooks, we are not used to have discussions and are not willing to have arguments. It’s understandable. When people in the modern world who have strong tendency of their own thoughts have discussions or panels, it is hard to see that they try to understand the other side. Therefore it is common to see that their own arguments are right and others are wrong, and consistent arguments and personal attacks happen. However, such arguments and panels are progressing little by little and if people find the point of intersection, it is success. Even though the discussions look aggressive, it is peaceful dialogue.” I am impressed that there was a nice result after peaceful dialogues. This is real democracy.

Netizens who participated in the event share their experiences.

일단, 저는 좀 놀러 다니다가 밤늦게 들어와서 인터넷 서핑을 하다가 명박산성을 뒤늦게 발견하고 11시쯤에 시청역으로 달려갔습니다. 그런데 사당역 쯤에서부터 이미 지하철역에 촛불집회 관계자로 추정되는 인파가 상당하더군요. 시청역 근처까지 가니 이미 엄청난 인원이 오가고 있고…

행사도 하고, 각종 자유발언도 있었는데, 줄이 좀 길더군요. 모여서 듣고 있는데, 갑자기 어떤 술냄새나는 아저씨가 고함을 지르고 뭐라고 해대서 실랑이도 벌어지고….그리고 제가 줄을 서고 있는데, 앞에 어떤 외국분이 올라오셔서 연설을 하시더군요. 잘 못들었는데…(영어가 안되는 건 아닌데;;귀가 그냥 좀 안 좋음;;) 마지막에 “이명박!”을 외치고 양손으로 X자를 만드는 장면은 확실히 봤습니다. 일단 기다려서 자유발언을 하게 되었는데, 그쯤되니 촛불이 다 타서 끝나버렸더군요. 일단 단상에 서서 말을 하기는 했는데….아놔;;줄에 서서 마음속으로 몇번이고 예행연습을 했는데 버벅대고 말도 잘 못했답니다OTL

직접 와서 보니 시위의 민주성이 정말 제대로 확립되어 있는 것은 확실하더군요. 대표적인 예로, 자유발언을 진행하는 사회자조차도, 몇 시간 동안 진행한 후에 시민들 중 거수자들을 후모로 지목해 교대하는 방식으로 했습니다.

민주주의가 모든 사람의 권리를 보장하는 최상의 구조이기는 합니다만, 의견수용과정에서 긴 토론이 발생함에 따라서 의사결정의 속도가 지연된다는 다소의 단점도 있는데, 그 점도 반영이 되기는 했네요..대표적으로, 스티로폼을 쌓아서 컨테이너상자를 넘는 것에 대해서 의견분열이 있고 실랑이가 발생했습니다. 이로 인해 언쟁으로 번지고, 스티로폼을 컨테이너 쪽으로 쌓기로 합의한 것은 새벽 3시나 되어서였습니다. 또한 지휘구조의 부재로 인해 스티로폼을 다시 쌓은 것은 새벽 3시 30분, 일부 시위자들(프락치라고도 추정됨)이 컨테이너 위로 올라가서 필요 이상의 난동을 부리자, 제지를 하고 시위대 전원 스티로폼에 오르는 것을 금지했습니다. 그리하여 격렬한 토론이 벌어지고, 몇몇 대표인원이 컨테이너 위에 올라가서 깃발을 흔들고, 그 밑에서 자유발언을 하는 등 질서체계가 확립된 것은 새벽 4시 30분이나 되어서였습니다.

I was hanging out and came back home late. Surfing the Internet, I discovered the MyungBak Castle, I ran to City Hall at 11 pm. But from the Sadang Station, it was full of people who seem to be related to the candlelight vigil. When I arrived at City Hall, there were so many people coming and going. There were events including the free speech stage. There was a long line for participating in it. Suddenly, a man having acohol odor was shouting… I was also in the line and waited. A foreigner before me also stood up on the stage and started the speech. I couldn’t hear well (English). At last, he shouted “Lee Myung Bak!” and made the gesture of X. I was waiting for my turn and my candle was already burnt out. It was finally my turn.. I practiced several times while I was waiting, but it didn’t work as good as I imagined.

Observing it with my eyes, I could see how well the demonstration was organized. For example, a host of the free speech led it for several hours and put volunteers in his position by turn. Democracy is the best structure to guarantee rights of all people. Some discussions became long while taking others’ opinions. I could see this kind of disadvantage.

For instance, whether we had to pile up styrofoam and to go cross the container boxes, there were split opinions. Arguments appeared. As a result, after the compromise, they decided to pile up them at 3 am. Due to the lack of leadership, it restarted piling up at 3:30 am. Some demonstrators got unnecessarily excited after climbing the containers and were controlled. After that that, some of them were allowed to climb. After another arguments, some representatives climbed the containers, swayed flags, and started free speeches at 4:30 am.


The next morning, selected participants with flags on the top of the container boxes. Photos from OnMyNews

1 comment

  • Sonagi

    It is interesting that Korean citizens’ attentions are focused on President Lee Myong-bak. What is the role of the recently elected National Assembly in making laws regarding, for example, privatization of health care? In the US, political activism targets not only our president but also members of Congress.

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