• Over 100,000 South Koreans, mainly workers, demonstrated in Seoul on Dec. 28. They expressed their anger over a number of issues at the government of President Park Geun-hye.
One source of anger is the move to privatize some service by KORAIL (Korean Railroad Corp.). This had already led to the largest-ever walkout by members of the railroad workers’ union. Union officials say moves to privatize will mean fare hikes, service reductions, and safety problems.
On Dec. 22 riot police were sent to attack the Seoul headquarters of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. Without search warrants, they broke down doors and caused serious property damage, including to the adjoining offices of the Kyunghang newspaper, which has been critical of Park’s policies.
Other citizens, outraged by revelations of manipulation by the National Intelligence Service of the 2012 elections when Park was elected, joined protesting workers. Police had confirmed illegal attempts to manipulate the election beforehand, but were ordered to remain silent.
With all these problems and more, South Korean youth have been inspired by the “Why We Aren’t Fine!” campaign. This was launched when a student at Korea University, Ju Hyun-woo, made a poster for his school bulletin board that was picked up and broadcast over social media. He wrote: “I just want to ask, ‘Are you okay?’ Are you fine with ignoring all these issues because they aren’t your problems?…And if you are not ‘fine’ after seeing all these problems, then voice your opinions—whatever they may be.”
Many of these young people joined in the Dec. 28 demonstrations, and also held flash mobs in cities across the country.