In Seoul, ‘Mad Sheep’ Protests Descend into Radical Violence

Update, 12/08: Here’s how history will record this whole ridiculous episode.

The herd has gotten leaner, and meaner: 

Around the Seorin Rotary in Jongno, another 80 protesters besieged a traffic police officer and an auxiliary police officer from Jongno Police Station, and stole three two-way radios.

Demonstrators also broke the windows of a police bus in front of the Samsung Tower, and flattened tires. Two police officers were taken to the Boshingak Pavilion, had their shirts taken off, and were beaten by crowds after midnight. The rest of the policemen could not dare to rescue the two. Some demonstrators went inside the fence around the pavilion to smoke.

The police have repeatedly announced that the illegal demonstrations will be dealt with seriously, only to be mocked by lawlessness all around. The police started shooting colored water at demonstrators from 3:10 a.m. on Sunday, when the number of protesters decreased to 200, and detained 42 on charges of illegally occupying roads.  [Chosun Ilbo]

Robert links to an eyewitness to the demonstrations who confirms that the mob is behaving like … a mob.  Yes, there is a certain incongruity in screaming “violent police!” while kicking  fallen police officers.  More so when you consider that the basis for this commotion has been exposed as false.

I do not think that bad or false journalism is an appropriate subject for either search warrants or criminal prosecutions, absent some evidence of a conspiracy to incite violence, or of foreign influence with intent to deceive the public.  The Korean government has pursued both of those things; it should have stopped at simply answering the lies with facts (though one wonders why, with the proliferation of so much free media in South Korea,  the government must still fund MBC, the network that produced the mendacious “PD Diary” program that started all of this).

Still, even if you disagree with the role of the authorities here,  it is interesting to see who is herding the flocks:

Police yesterday released documents produced by anti-U.S. beef rally organizers that appear to show that the rallies were organized with the intent to bring down the Lee Myung-bak administration.  Police raided the office of the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement and confiscated documents that were made during its meetings. The documents recount discussions between leaders of various civic groups on the direction of anti-U.S. beef demonstrations.

The leaders included those from the Democratic Labor Party, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, South Korean Federation of University Student Councils and Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement.

At a meeting, a leader put it simply:

“If Lee Myung-bak and the United States do not make a serious mistake, we have no choice but to wait until 2010. We need to foster a strong political opposition front by combining anti-American sentiments and President Lee’s faulty policies.

“If we merely focus on demanding U.S. beef renegotiations, it can swamp our real intention, which is to bring down the Lee Myung-bak administration.

Furthermore, there are suggestions in the papers of intent to paralyze downtown streets by encouraging citizens to participate in candlelight vigils at night and mobilizing their groups’ activists during the day.  Another leader suggested a week-long demonstration to swamp the downtown core of the city with demonstrators.  There were ideas thrown about by demonstration organizers to tie the South Korea-U.S. alliance issue into the protests.

“The moment we suggest why the Lee Myung-bak administration cannot renegotiate the beef deal, we can start to bring up our discontent towards the South Korea-U.S. alliance.

Police believe the demonstrations started as peaceful candlelight vigils and later escalated into something more.  They also believe the demonstrations were masterminded from the beginning by members of various civic groups spearheaded by the Korea Alliance for Progressive Movement.   [Joongang Ilbo]

I have said before that it is an  inviolable rule of today’s South Korea that all social movements will eventually become violent and anti-American.  Here is a rare exposure of the precise process through which that evolution is engineered.  And you could hardly write a better list of “the usual suspects.”   There are well-grounded  reasons to suspect that  several of the aforementioned groups  are substantially influenced by  the North Korean regime. 

The leaders of the  Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korea’s largest trade union umbrella organization,  are particularly prone to juche idol-worship,  anti-American  tirades that seem to be plucked straight from Pyongyang’s Rondong Shinmun, and the occasional exposure as North Korean spies. 

The South Korean Federation of University Student Councils, more commonly known as Hanchongryon,  has long been suspected of being  a North Korean puppet.  It’s mainly known for its  North Korean-inspired  ideology, its regular pilgrimages to the North, its thuggish rule of college campuses, and its violent street protests.

The Democratic Labor party was so humiliated and damaged by the conviction of two former members — a former Vice General Secretary and a former member of its “Central Committee” — in  a recent North Korean spy scandal that it recently split into red and pink factions. The latter faction later seceded to form the New Progressive Party and left the rump DLP as pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of North Korean puppet cadres.  Those who left to form the  NPP were ashamed to be associated with the  DLP’s pro-North faction  after it emerged that the North tried to throw DLP votes to the then-ruling party candidate to throw the Seoul mayoral election to him (it didn’t work).     

Without direct evidence — which is lacking here — we’re left to infer what we will from North Korea’s encouragement of the protests.  But we don’t have to crawl out on a very long limb to suspect that the North’s carefully tended fifth column is now playing a leading role.


  1. What is so damning about the eyewitness account is that it comes from an leftist American blogger who has been observing and participating from the beginning, photographing and talking with organizers and demonstrators. His commentaries on his own blog and other K-blogs had been sympathetic to the demonstrators until in desperation at dwindling numbers and interest, the organizers shed their pacifist sheepskins.


  2. I agree with Sonagi. Watching Scott Burgeson’s disillusionment process has been quite a thing to see — and that’s the exact problem with Korea’s left, I think — their great strength is that they’re ridiculously good at mobilizing people through their communication channels and by manipulating information flow, but once they HAVE control of the public agenda, they overplay their hand, ask too much, hold the stage for too long, and lose in long-term credibility what they gained in immediate results.

    I mean, there are other weaknesses, too, but if they’d quit the protests at the end of June and preserved some aura of righteousness to be used at a future time, it would have helped them more.