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2016-11-21 16:20
High school students call for resignation of President Park Geun-hye over the influence-peddling scandal involving her close confidant and aides during a rally in central Seoul, Saturday, in the left photo. In the right photo, a participant of a pro-Park rally nearby holds a banner that reads, “Opposition to forcible resignation.” / Yonhap

By Choi Ha-young



President Park Geun-hye’s supporters flocked to downtown Seoul to advocate the scandal-ridden leader, Saturday. Despite the unprecedented influence-meddling scandal involving her aides, they cried out from their loyalty for Park.

After interviewing the pro-Park rally participants, mainly members of Park’s longtime fan club “Park Sa Mo,” this reporter walked to Gwanghwamun Square to cover the anti-Park rally, where participants were including students, relatively young.

Surprisingly, comments from the ultra-right protesters and young people in the two separate rallies were the same: “I couldn’t help coming here as the country is on the verge of collapse,” and “I decided to come here for future generations.”

Asking about the meaning of their words such as “national crisis” and “task for future generations,” this reporter found the common denominator was survival.

Many of the pro-Park senior citizens believe North Korea’s threats are palpable. Lots of them were born in 1940s to 50s. They highlighted their experiences of the Korean War and starvation, and the aftermath of the war.

It felt like they were still living in the postwar era. Conservative TV programs, ultra-right wing websites, and anticommunists’ YouTube channels reproduce their fears.

Many of them actively expressed their views. They never stopped speaking, as if it was the first time a young person had listened to their opinion carefully. They said their children ignore them.

For them, Park’s bloodline symbolizes national security against communism. It was something like discussing if god exists or not. And they didn't answer questions like, “You are protesting but opposing the freedom of assembly. What do you think about that?” However, they never shied away from their antidemocratic ideas.

The young, on the other hand, advocated social justice. They were angry about the privileges of college entrance and grading that Choi Soon-sil’s daughter Chung Yoo-ra received. Inequality is what’s threatening the young generation’s survival, amid harsh competition during university admission and in seeking jobs.

Wearing a yellow ribbon, some participants called for the truth about the Sewol ferry disaster. At a rally two weeks ago, this reporter met a high school student who suddenly burst into tears when asked about the disaster. For her peer group, it may be as traumatic as the war.

When seeking an answer about the gap between the generations and ideology, a 75-year-old man who participated in the anti-Park candlelit rally gave a hint: “The old people over there (in the pro-Park rally) are not our enemy. They are all victims of indoctrination, while struggling to survive.”


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