A quick wrap-up of coverage on last week’s anti-APEC protests in Pusan. Actually, Two Koreas has already done a pretty good job of rounding up the few sources in English, including this good article at Monsters and Critics (Jamie was also kind enough to quote my brief overview of the events from Friday).
For readers of Korean, 참세상 has an assessment of Friday’s events that looks back on the organisation of the protests and expresses some regret, along with pride in some of the actions. I particularly like the part where the writer wonders how much people in other countries must have been surprised to see the Korean demonstrators braving water cannon to tie ropes to the shipping containers used as a barricade by the police, and then start to pull them down.
This week’s Socialist Worker has a report on the protests from CJ Park. I’m not sure about the figures he quotes - 300,000 seems greater than most other estimates by an order of ten. However, as some have pointed out, while the convergance of demonstrators at the bridge over to the conference venue may have been only some 20,000 people, but other demonstrations were taking place all over the city. The old numbers game eh… it always manages to baffle me. Anyway, here is the whole article:
Korea: 300,000 say no to Bush
by CJ Park from the South Korean socialist group All Together
A march of 300,000 people confronted George Bush when he went to South Korea to attend the Economic Leaders’ Meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Community (APEC).
APEC aims to give support to the upcoming WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong and to push forward free trade and privatisation, and strengthen Bush’s war on terror.
But he had to go back empty handed — as he did earlier this month at the Summit of Americas.
In the same week South Korea’s cabinet backed a proposal to withdraw one third of the country’s 3,200 troops from Iraq.
The Washington Post complained, “As Bush wrapped up his stay in Beijing on Sunday and prepared to head home Monday after a brief stop in Mongolia, the trip has produced no real breakthroughs of any sort.
“On a wide variety of issues, from trade to security to human rights, Bush won no concrete agreements from any of his summit partners. Bush wanted to propel free trade during an economic summit in South Korea, but the general statement drafted by Pacific Rim leaders drops no tariffs and merely sets the stage for further talks.”
On Friday last week, the first day of the summit, 300,000 people from all walks of life came out on the streets of Busan to protest, chanting “No Bush, No APEC!”
The demonstration was the biggest protest this year in South Korea.
As a member of the Korean socialist group All Together said “it was a unity of diversity”.
This reflects the rising level of radicalisation and confidence of the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements in South Korea.That anger is fuelled by the growing inequality in Korean society.
Recently the movement has been inspired by the anti-war demonstrations in the US and anti-Bush demonstrations in Argentina.
Across the country people know that Bush is the biggest threat to humanity and the planet.
APEC is clearly only a mechanism to force through neo-liberal globalisation in the Asia Pacific region.
Building upon the success of the anti-Bush demonstration, the South Korean anti-war and anti-capitalist movements are working to bring all Korean troops home from Iraq.
CJ’s organisation, All Together (다함께) seems to have put a lot of energy into the anti-APEC protests, as befits their internationalist, anti-globalisation perspective. For a relatively small organisation, not part of the old mainstream Korean left, they manage to have a high profile with their prominent and sharply designed placards. Lots of which can be viewed at the photo galleries on their site (can’t directly link to photos as their site is blocked on my server for some unknown reason).
Anyway, here’s a taste: