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[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Protesters on holiday when they are needed

Feb 21,2003
This past weekend, millions of people around the world exercised their democratic right to express dissent by marching and protesting publicly against war on Iraq. In London, an officially estimated 750,000 took to the streets in the name of peace; in Rome, police estimated 600,000 anti-war protesters joined in, although protest organizers put the figure at 3 million. In Madrid and Barcelona, authorities estimated a million-plus turn-out; in my hometown of San Francisco, there was a low official estimate of 150,000 protesters.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard doubted that 400,000 protesters in Sydney gathered to express disapproval of his relationship with the administration U.S. President George W. Bush and its war plans. Whatever the actual number, it is clear that from Amsterdam to New York to Hong Kong, millions of people participated in the largest anti-war demonstrations since the Vietnam War era.
This was clearly moving and impressive.
Imagine my shock when I read in the JoongAng Daily and other local papers that 2,000 protesters -- many of them foreigners -- marched for peace here in Seoul last Saturday. There must be 2,000 people in the streets of any part of Seoul even when a demonstration is not being held.
In this city where millions can gather in the streets to watch a soccer game, and tens of thousands can gather repeatedly to protest the deaths of two Korean girls who were crushed by a U.S. military vehicle last June, why do people not care more about a threatened war -- an event that is far more important than a soccer game and will certainly result in far more deaths than two young girls?
It seems to me that when it comes to expressing empathy with the plight of all the Iraqi people who will certainly die in the name of cheap oil once Bush's war begins, the rising wave of Korean “anti-Americanism” that we all have heard so much about clearly takes a back seat to going shopping and enjoying a date on a sunny Saturday afternoon.


by J. Scott Burgeson


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