[GOING TO THE BLOGS]THE TRAUMA OF MOVING HOUSEThis week, torrents of cyber ink have been spilled on the forthcoming relocation of the U.S. Army base from Yongsan, in the heart of Seoul, to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi province.
Once again, GI Korea (http://jetiranger.tripod. com/BLOG/) despairs at the conduct of the protesters and the law’s apparent impotence in dealing with them. “Enforcing laws is not a strong point of Korean society,” he writes, “especially when it comes to violently attacking 20-year-old draftee policemen with metal pipes and bamboo poles like these idiot protesters have been doing.” But noting that many of the young policemen’s parents are increasingly angry at the treatment being doled out to their sons, he comes up with a novel suggestion: “Maybe the riot police should get their ... ajumma mothers into battle gear to fight these people. I am willing to bet these mothers would beat these rioters up even worse than the riot police did on Friday.”
Though bloggers are largely of one voice in slamming the legal system’s foot-dragging in punishing the protesters, word from the Ministry of Defense that suspects may be tried in military tribunals has provoked a mixed response on the blogosphere. “It’s about time they started imposing some law and order against the bamboo warriors,” rails Kushibo on “Monster Island” (http://kushibo.blogspot.com/). Not so fast, says Joshua at “The Korea Liberator” (http://www. korealiberator.org/). “I don’t support compromising the rule of civil authority [to prosecute ‘violent thugs’], which is why the use of courts-martial against civilians makes me uncomfortable.”
Along with one or two other bloggers, Nomad at the “Lost Nomad” (http://www.lostnomad. org/) sees some cause for optimism in poll results suggesting, among other things, that a big majority of Koreans is opposed to any violent protests over the base relocation, and does not think the time is right for a withdrawal of U.S. troops. “I know, it’s another poll, but the results are still interesting (and to me, encouraging). I do get the feeling that the general public is turning against these activists and protesters.” USinkorea (http://usinkorea.org/blog1/), however, is not convinced: “A necessary evil is seen as necessary,” he writes, “but still evil.”
Also creating waves this week is that rarest of beasts: a stridently left-wing Korea blog. Unity, an American woman, has started two blogs, one of which, “Days in Deachuri” (http://saveptfarmers.org/blog/), deals solely with the U.S. base relocation. “All this beauty in ruins,” she writes, “Why? For my supposed country's military base. In my ears rang the words of my own primary school teachers, ‘Liberty and Justice for All.’ If that rubble is America’s or Korea’s ‘liberty and justice,’ then I want no part in either.” Caustic stuff. And though the hard left is often guilty of highly jaundiced reasoning on this issue, diversity of opinion should surely always be welcome.
GOOD FOR WHOSE ENVIRONMENT?
A rare pleasure appeared on the blogosphere this week, in the shape of a posting from Matt on “Gusts of Popular Feeling” (http://populargusts.blogspot.com/). Like the Cheongye stream whose construction he has overseen, Lee Myoung-bak, Seoul’s mayor, has gushed about his efforts to make Seoul a greener city. Yet Matt has his doubts. Regarding City Hall Plaza: “No one is going to say that replacing asphalt with grass is a bad thing, but the location of this popular spot basically provides a constant reminder that all of this was ‘brought to you by City Hall,’ and by association, the mayor ― who has made no secret of his presidential ambitions.” He also has little time for government claims that Seoul no longer simply equates tall buildings with prestige, but is now chiefly concerned with aesthetics. “When there are plans to build half a dozen buildings taller than 100 floors by 2010, (when the tallest building in Korea at the moment is only 73 floors) I have to seriously question that assertion.” Be sure, as bloggers love to say, to read the rest on your own.
by Niels Footman