The One-Million March for Peace in Korea on New Year's Eve
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Jan 2 01:22:31 MST 2003
In solidarity with the one-million march, candlelight protests took place
around the world and across the United States on New Year's Eve. In New
York, about 140 people gathered in the evening at the heart of the midtown
Manhattan Korean community (32nd and Broadway) to hear speakers from the
community (notably one Rev. Moon, who described the Korean struggle as part
of the worldwide struggle of the oppressed and oppressor, and a young woman
who read a poem on the killings of the two children) and also Carlito Rovira
of the Vieques Solidarity Committee. Almost all the speakers denounced the
oncoming invasion of Iraq. They marched through the busy streets, chanting
"U.S. Military -- Bring Them to Justice," led by an outstanding percussion
group doing ceremonial drumming.
The One-Million March for Peace in Korea on New Year's Eve
Peace - No More War in Korea!
December 31, 2002 (Korea WebWeekly) - On the last day of 2002, candle-light
marches, in memory of the two school girls slain by the US military and for
an overhaul of the one-sided SOFA, are being held in Seoul and 60 other
locations in South Korea, and more than 30 locations overseas. Following
the 100,000 candlelight march of December 14, today, on the eve of 2003, one
million marchers are expected to join peaceful marches.
The march in Seoul was originally planned to start in front of the statue of
Admiral Lee Sun Shin, but the police blocked the area and forced the
marchers to another location. The marchers began to arrive at the new
location at about 6:30 PM. Father Mun Jung Hyun told the crowd: "Let's hope
the New Year bring many achievements for us. President-elect Roh Moo Hyun
talks about pro-US and anti-US independence, which is non-sense. You cannot
be pro-US and independent. Being pro-US means taking orders from the United
At about 6:42 PM, the One-Million March officially started with about 10,000
marchers in the crowd, with a moment of silence followed by singing of the
national anthem. The march organizers gave brief instructions and then the
crowd sang 'arirang'. Several march leaders gave short speeches: "Your
proud marches are shaking up the Bush administration. Let us hold high the
candle-lights for peace in Korea."; "Peace! Freedom! Let us raise our
candle-lights high and stand together, and let the world know that we would
rather die for peace and freedom than live enslaved."
The speakers made three demands to Roh Moo Hyun: (1) Punish the US soldiers
involved in the slaying in a Korean court of law, (2) Bush must offer a
public apology directly to the Korean people, and (3) overhaul the unfair
and unequal SOFA.
Musicians, actors, and students performed various dramas and music at
several location along the march routes.
By this time, the crowd swelled to about 30,000. Lee Kwang Bok, one of the
march organizers, spoke to the crowd: "Let us make 2003 the year of peace
and independence. Let us make sure that Bush apologizes directly to us in
the New Year! Let us restore our independence trampled by the unequal SOFA
in the New Year! Let us block the US militarists from starting a war in
Korea, which threaten the very existence of our nation, and build a peaceful
Korea!" Lee went on to urge the crowd to make the New Year the year of
national independence, of opening of the path to the peaceful unification of
Korea, of taking back our self-determination from the arrogant Bush
Jang Sa Ik, a popular singer, got on the stage and sang "On the way to
Heaven" accompanied by the Samul-pae musical band. The crowd waved their
candlelight and sang a chorus of 'arirang'. Yang Hee Un, another popular
singer, followed Jang to the stage and sang "The Morning Dew" - the
unofficial song the candlelight marches. Yang urged to crowd to participate
in the political process using the Internet. Lee Yong Nam, a photographer,
got on the stage and showed the crowd the shoes worn by the girls at the
time of their death. Lee shouted: "Let us call down Mi Sun and Hyo Soon
from Heaven! Let us make sure that no more Koreans shall ever die
Shin Hah Nul, a resident of Namyang, got on the stage and recited the
three-demands. He said: "The United States is still ignoring our three
demands. The Americans look down on the Korean people. Let us teach the
arrogant Americans a lesson!" The crowd gave Shin a hearty applause. A
documentary was shown as the last agenda of the opening ceremony of the
march. The marchers plan to march to the US Embassy - in spite of the
police cordons blocking all paths to the Embassy.
Upon closing of the opening ceremony, the crowd began to move toward the US
Embassy. The police blocked all paths leading to the Embassy with buses.
Some of the marchers attempted to climb over the buses only to be pulled
down by the police. Some marchers began to push on the buses and let the air
out of the tires. The crowd shouted at the police - "Get out of our way!"
The marchers are determined to get to the Embassy no matter what.
The marchers are engaged in pushing and pulling matches with the police at
police barricades. Several marchers were injured by the police, and
ambulances were called in. The police arrested Hong Gun Su and several
other march leaders. The police began to use more physical violence against
the marchers. The marchers remained peaceful in spite of the increasing
Frustrated by the police brutality, the marchers were unable to reach the US
Embassy and held a street meeting. It was a free speech forum open to all.
Kim Hyun Sook said: "We came here together in peace on the New Year's Eve
but our government has disrupted our peaceful march."
The marchers are moving toward Boshing-gak on Chong-ro. A huge crowd has
gathered in this area. It is impossible to estimate the size of the crowd.
There are people everywhere. Fireworks light up the skies. The candlelight
marchers are being joined by the Seoul citizens gathered here to celebrate
the New Year.
A huge TV screen is set up at Boshing-gak and the bell to ring in the New
Year is being readied. People are singing 'arirang' in small groups.
Various musical bands are roaming among the crowd performing popular songs.
One can see huge signs with "No More War in our World!", "Peace! Stop the
War, No blood for Oil!", and other slogans.
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