by Michael Kennedy
American political activist Howard Zinn said: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” He was right, and a moving train that demands a serious response is the Korean peninsula – where a civil war has resulted in one of the longest time-outs in history, beginning in 1953.
If we do not think for ourselves, some one will do the thinking for us.
Every week for the past two months, older people in Seoul have taken to the downtown streets of the city for peaceful marches to demonstrate that they have a lot to say – and they do not want anyone else thinking for them.
Social change always comes from the bottom-up, not from the top-down. When a generation old enough to be grandparents and great-grandparents voice their discontent with government policies by marching every week in cold winter weather, something is truly rotten in Denmark.
The moving train that affects South Korea involves many issues, though most importantly:
the quick impeachment and removal from office of Park Geun-hye, the first female President of the Republic of Korea – and a hard-liner against Kim Jong-un, of North Korea;
the quick installation of President Moon Jae-in – who favors rapprochement with the North;
and the undeniable fact that Kim Jong-un has developed nuclear weapons that are within striking range of Seoul, Tokyo and allegedly the U.S.
Protestors who have taken to the streets of Seoul are outraged by the impeachment and imprisonment of President Park Geun-hye. The essential charge: corruption and cronyism.
The former president awaits formal sentencing – and prosecutors are asking for a 30-year term.
The corruption scandal ensnared Lee Jae-yong, heir to Samsung, the mega-conglomerate, who was sentenced to five years in prison – yet released after only three months.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was also sentenced to 30-months in jail on bribery charges – but given a 20-month suspended sentence. The Lotte Group is a major corporation in South Korea, with investments in department stores, hotels and chemicals.
Three people died and dozens were injured in violent protests that broke out in Seoul a year ago this month - after South Korea's Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach Park over allegations of corruption and cronyism.
The protestors that gathered for the recent march through downtown Seoul this past Saturday (March 10) numbered about 10,000.
Two days earlier, U.S. President Trump announced that he planned to meet with Kim Jong-un sometime in May. He did so without consulting any of his advisors – or members of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Many of the protestors were born before the Korean War (1950-1953), and recall all too vividly the hardships of growing up in South Korea – when much of Seoul was reduced to nothing. This older generation is anxious for the U.S. military to intervene in the issue of Kim Jong-un, and bomb North Korea until it is no longer a threat to anyone.
During the past two months of protest marches through downtown Seoul on Saturday afternoon, South Korean media has not covered any of these events – as if they have never happened.
Allegedly, the media is complying with the wishes of President Moon Jae-in, considered a Communist by many older Koreans.
You can’t be neutral on a moving train, and that train is here in Seoul.
Park Geun-hye, the only female President of South Korea - now awaiting sentencing for corruption - after being very quickly impeached ... has a life straight from a Shakespearian drama: - her father was both the first dictator and first President of South Korea. He was assassinated at a dinner party by the head of his intelligence service; - her mother was assassinated by a North Korean agent, who entered the country on a fake Japanese passport.