The front page of today’s Joongang Daily newspaper has a picture of two Korean flags. (here’s the joongang daily online version in Korean)
March 1st is a national holiday in Korea commemorating the declaration of Independence that took place in 1919 to protest against Japanese colonial rule. And yesterday people gathered in central Seoul waving Korean flags to celebrate this event but this year the flags were different – some had yellow ribbons tied to them.
This was because whilst everyone wants to be patriotic and celebrate the Independence movement, they have opposing political views. One groups supports the impeachment of President Park and the other does not.
picture: candlelit protests against President Park Korea Times
While the investigation into President Park Geun Hye’s presidency continues, anti-park demonstrators have been holding candlelit protests for months and they support the impeachment of the president. But a pro-Park movement has been growing too and they turned out to protest against the impeachment.
The two groups were originally distinguishable because the President Park supporters wave the Korea flag and the anti-Park group hold candles as symbols of their political views.
picture: President Park supporters Korea Times
So yesterday the anti-Park protestors tied yellow ribbons to their flags. The ribbon symbolises the Sewol Ferry Disaster where over 300 people (mainly schoolchildren) drowned when a ferry going to Jeju Island sank in 2014. The Park administration was criticised for the virtually non-existent rescue attempt and unsatisfactory investigation into the accident afterwards.
President Park also went AWOL for about 7 hours after being told of the accident and there have been all sorts of theories about where she was during that time including that she was getting her hair done – not to look good but to look appropriately stressed out and dowdy. 😕 Other rumours include she was taking part in cult rituals, having plastic surgery, or having an affair.
Yesterday over 100 police riot buses were used in Sejongdaeno road outside Gyeongbokgung Palace to keep the two groups of protestors separate.
In this picture (below) taken outside Gyeongbokgung (palace) the pro-park group is in the bottom left and buses are separating them from the anti-park group in the top right. The statue of Admiral Yi Sun Sin is in the centre with the statue of King Sejong behind and the Gwanghwamun palace gate behind to the right of the picture. The Blue House – the president’s official residence and office – is behind the palace (top leftish). An impressive crowd. And it was raining too.
picture: Joongang Daily
BTW This part of the city – Sejongdaero – has been the widest and most important road in the capital since the Joseon period. People still come here to take part in demonstrations or festivals and celebrations at Gwanghwamun. Here’s a picture taken at the end of the 19th century.
This photograph is thought to be the state funeral of Queen Min (Empress Myeongseong), in Sejongdaero in 1897. Lots more interesting photos of Seoul in the past at Korea Joongang Daily