[LETTERS to the editor]Remember how democracy works
One of the core ideas of democracy is participation by the people. Citizens have the right to speak their mind to the government; this is a fact that even an elementary school student should know. Ever since the foundation of the Republic of Korea, people have long struggled for democracy, which was achieved roughly 20 years ago. Korean citizens are proud that they attained democracy through their own efforts and participation. And whenever there are social issues, people eagerly come out to the streets and speak out against wrongs. Candlelight gatherings epitomize the development of democracy in Korea.
However, something is going very wrong. I don’t mean whether American beef is safe or not. I am not saying President Lee is right or wrong. What I want to try to say is that we really should think about what true democracy is. It is a shame that a few of the peaceful candle demonstrations turned into a sort of riot. I know that the majority of the people who came out to the streets came for peaceful gatherings. But there are some people who think only they are right while others are wrong, with no room for compromise. Some people are getting carried away; they are acting unreasonably.
This applies to everyone, supporters and non-supporters. People are refusing to listen and only raise their fists. They are closing their eyes and only open their mouths. They would not pay attention to listen to others. It is quite sad to see that the American beef issue grew into a conflict between right and left. Where has the true objective of the candlelight vigils gone?
If there is no order nor law in such demonstrations, the government should take stronger action than just using water cannons and tear gas. Any challenges and attempts to defy the government should be handled firmly. Any fists directed at police should be put in handcuffs. A demonstration with no respect is not a democratic idea. Democracy does not mean that you own the government; you share it with other people with different opinions. We really must realize this before anyone throws a stone at those with different ideas. I am saying this to both sides.
Kang Yoon Seung, student,
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies