[FOUNTAIN]Confrontation and celebration

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[FOUNTAIN]Confrontation and celebration

On Monday, Daegu hosted a soccer match between Korea and the United States. As was the case on June 4, when Korea played Poland in Busan, hundreds of thousands of soccer fans poured out on the street, clad in bright-red "Be the Reds" T-shirts, dancing and chanting "Dae-Han-Min-Guk," the Korean name of their country.

The phenomenon was exceptional; the young and the elderly dismissed their age differences and created a jubilee, bumping shoulder to shoulder on the street.

On June 10, 1987, the streets in Korea were also taken over by crowds. But the atmosphere 15 years ago, with its sense of determination and fierce tension, was markedly different from Monday's cheers, applause and laughter.

The rallying cries in 1987 were not "Dae-Han-Min-Guk" or "Oh...Victory Korea!" but "Defeat the dictator!" and "Revise the constitution for direct election of the president!" What the demonstrators got in return was not applause and cheers but clouds of tear gas.

On that day, as on Monday, many members of the foreign press frantically clicked their camera shutters at the crowd, but the images they wanted to capture through their lenses were much different from those the photographers wanted to convey yesterday -- it was the difference between the slogans of 15 years ago and today's slogans.

If we want to find a commonality between the demonstrators of June 1987 and the Red Devils 15 years later, it would be the energy they emitted. While our energy in 1987 was depressed by desperate resistance against a military dictatorship, corruption and despair, the energy of today is just the opposite -- ively, vivid and energetic.

Over 15 years, we have replaced sacrificial devotion to a noble cause with joyous excitement. The bloodless revolution 15 years ago was accomplished when the salarymen who were the bulwark of the social order joined the demonstrating students.

In this year's celebrations, the older generation that had been drowned in aloofness joined the younger generation that has its cultural base on the Internet.

The new culture of "participation while having fun" was created when those in their 30s and 40s, more accustomed to demonstrations for greater causes, combined with the new mass movement.

The collective movement of the 1980s has been transformed into a festival of individuals. That is also one of the quiet revolutions that is changing Korean society.



The writer is a JoongAng Ilbo editorial writer.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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