중앙데일리

Lines of age, beliefs drawn in the street

Mar 03,2003
Kim Yun-su, in his late 40s, said he never before had gone to rallies, not even to the ones during the World Cup soccer games that captured the nation’s attention last summer. But Saturday at noon he was commemorating Korea’s March 1 Independent Movement in 1919 with his wife at City Hall plaza in central Seoul. They were part of a crowd estimated at 70,000 by police, shouting anti-nuclear and anti-North Korean slogans and calling for peaceful reunification.
“I regret that society doesn’t seem to have any regard for what the older generation thinks,” Mr. Kim said. “Conservatives are estranged from the decision-making process; only what the younger people think seems to matter.”
More than 100 conservative groups, including the Korea Freedom League, Korean War Abductees’ Family Union and Christian groups and war veterans associations sponsored the rally. Eighty-three Grand National Party lawmakers who recently issued a statement opposing a withdrawal of U.S. troops attended, as did ministers, Chung Won-shik, a former prime minister, and Park Hong, the former president of Sogang University here.
The participants, mostly middle-aged and older, shouted, “We love the United States,” and waved Korean and U.S. flags. Placards with slogans like “Do away with pro-communists” were hung. Massive Korean, U.S. and United Nations flags were unrolled over the heads of participants, who sang the U.S. and South Korean national anthems. Kim Eun-hye, who came to the rally with her family from Bundang, Gyeonggi province, said she regretted the dearth of young people there. “I guess that is because the younger generation did not experience the war,” she said.
An anti-American rally was held later that afternoon nearby; police estimated that crowd at about 2,200. The bulk of the participants were university students protesting against U.S. war preparations against Iraq. That rally was sponsored by a claimed 250 civic groups, including the Pan-National Committee, which sponsored candlelight demonstrations earlier for two girls crushed by a U.S. armored vehicle last summer.
Those demonstrators called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and an apology from U.S. president George W. Bush for the deaths of the two girls. They shouted their opposition to Korean support for U.S. war plans against Iraq.
“It is my firm conviction that the U.S. military presence is the source of war, but the older people believe they serve as deterrence against North Korean attacks,” said Kang Mi-gyeong, a senior at Hongik University. “The older people must have terrible memories of the war, but their way of thinking is not following the changing times.”
Rallies tinged with pro- and anti-U.S. sentiment continued in Seoul Saturday evening.
One sponsored by the Christian Council of Korea was staged at the Han Riverside Park at Yeouido. Another 100,000 persons, by police count, prayed for better moral values, national development and economic growth, more human rights in the North and refuge here for more North Korean defectors.
A group of 105 North Koreans, including so-called religious leaders there, arrived Saturday to meet representatives of South Korean religious groups. At a prayer meeting at Somang Church in Seoul, Pyeongyang delegates called for the withdrawal of foreign forces in South Korea, attacks that met protests from some of the South Korean Christians attending the service.


by Koh Han-sun


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