Non-Violent Candlelit Protest in Seoul

The downtown of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, has been full of more than one hundred thousand people since the late May, 2008. They have got together spontaneously to object to the unrestricted import of U.S. beef as a government policy of FTA since even the U.S. beefs with mad cow disease can be imported without strict quarantine inspection. The Korean government had tried to enforce the policy without the agreement of Korean people, which caused the remarkable wrath of Korean people; they had been insisting that the attitude of the government was undemocratic.

In this article, instead of discussing how reasonable the policy is, I would like to talk about how non-violently Korean people have protested against the policy. The protest was a peculiar form; each participant held a candle in his or her hands during dark night, and then they loudly cried out for stopping the undemocratic policy. It was very surprising us that there were few crashes between demonstrators and policemen even if an uncountable number of people got together. Whenever the protest had grown more intense, and even when the policemen had beaten down them violently, most of participants used to shout “Be Non-violent!” The non-violence naturally became the best rule for the demonstration. Unlike the past type of demonstration against military dictatorship in 1980s, the protest was peaceful and non-violent. As a result, the government had to change the policy since the president realized how ardent the hope of Korean people was.

It reminds us of the great demonstration which held all over the country at March 1, 1919 to object to Japanese occupation. At that time, Korean people held a Korean flag instead of candles in their hands. I believe that most of Korean people tend to love peace and non-violence. The non-violence was also a great spirit of Mahatma Gandhi who had led the movement for the India’s independence from Great Britain Empire. He had understood that the non-violence could be a powerful way which changes the enemy’s attitude without a bloody fight. I hope Korean people keep the peaceful atmosphere during the demonstration. If they can do so, I am sure that it will be ultimately successful.
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