When it comes to protests, Korea really knows how to get down with it.
I’ve seen the rivers of candles in the air on the news, but what I experienced last night I can hardly find the words to describe. After a lovely day spent in Dunsan-dong, I started making my way to the bus stop when I heard loud music, a roaring crowd and a voice yelling above the energetic mob. I froze in my steps. There were big flashing, colorful lights, many flags, candles held high, drums, people chanting –
“is there a big rock concert happening tonight that I missed out on?!?”, I thought.
No, these people are passionately protesting. The energy was so electrifying! Enough to inspire anyone to grab a candle and wave it high! What really struck me was the orderly and peaceful fashion in which it all happened.
I come from South Africa, where we are really used to regular protests. When people in South Africa get angry, they go outside with banners and start dancing in the streets. We call this ‘dancing’ toi-toi. Although toi-toi might sound inspiring and fun, it can very easily get out of hand and sometimes, unfortunately, result in uncontrolled chaos and violence. What I saw here in Korea was the complete opposite. Literally THOUSANDS of people peacefully marched down the street seamlessly adhering to a designated lane for protest. This was kind of beautiful to watch.
Last week, after I saw some of these organized protests on the news, I asked my Korean co-worker about the nature of Korean protests. She said that it wasn’t always like this. They also had some violent and less organized protests in the past, but have now moved on to peaceful and organized protests.
Why are they protesting?
Koreans are protesting against the Korean president, Park Geun-hye. They desperately want her to resign after a big scandal was exposed.
Will these protests persuade her to resign? Who can tell? However, I salute Koreans for expressing their opinion in a way that doesn’t do any harm to anyone. I salute those hard working Koreans who gave up their Saturday evening to turn up in their masses to stand together as a nation.