Victory of the Candlelight
Shock and disappointment have overwhelmed South Korea. Some people hang up candles to show their faith and others carry national flags to express theirs.
The former president of Korea, Gun Hye Park, expressed her big apology and guilt, because she made people lose their trust in the government by giving exclusive economical and political priority based on her private relationships. Sun-sil Choi, the core person of the impeachment, had gained strong support from Park. It led to Choi writing the scripts of presidential speeches. After that, Choi gradually got benefits such as an undeserved admission to Ewha Womans University for her daughter, Yu-ra Jeong. It empowered her to determine what Park should do and intervene in important national decisions. She made a monopoly of enormous money and had the power to move a major company believing that Park would do everything for her.
It is widely said that the ability of Park to lead the administration has been doubted. The most disappointing accident is the “The Sewol Ferry.”
It is South Korea’s worst maritime disaster, which happened on April 16, 2014. The Sewol ferry, overloaded with people and goods, was too old to guarantee its safety. But it was the government of Korea that approved use of the ship. Not surprisingly, the ferry heading to Jeju Island sank into the water near Jin-do Island. Most passengers were high school students going on their field trip to Jeju. When this terrible nightmare occurred, the government did nothing for 7 hours and did not send them a rescue team, instead saying “Stay there.” This lethargic reaction is considered the reason of death for all of the passengers. From this accident, Park has constantly been criticized as president even though the National Maritime Police was dissolved. Then, after the existence of Choi was revealed, she was accused of inappropriate government operations by non-government people. These factors brought the impeachment of Park. Here is the timeline which shows the sequence.
20160920 Suspicion of Choi’s intervention in the K-sports establishment reported by Hankyoreh
20160927 Suspicion of Jung(Choi’s daughter)’s illicit admission in Ewha univeristy reported by Hankyoreh
20161019 President of Ewha university’s resignation
20161024 Suspicion about Choi’s amending the president’s speech on her tablet PC
20161025 Park’s 1st statement “I have received help for some parts of the speech and expressions”
20161027 Special investigation headquarters for Choi Scandal established by the prosecution
20161029 Prosecution attempt to search and seizure Cheongwadae. The 1st Candlelight rally (30 thousand)
20161030 Choi’s return. Prosecution’s 2nd attempt to seizure and search Cheongwade
20161103 Choi Soon-sil arrested by the prosecution.
20161104 Park’s 2nd statement. Polls showed the lowest approval rating of Park’s presidency
20161105 The 2nd Candlelight rally (200 thousand)
20161112 The 3rd Candlelight rally (1 million)
20161119 The 4th Candlelight rally (1 million)
20161126 The 5th Candlelight rally (1.9 million)
20161129 Park’s 3rd statement
20161203 A majority of the National Assembly’s members move to impeach Park
20161203 The 6th Candlelight rally (2.3 million)
20161205 Anti-Park’s agreement with the impeachment
20161209 The National Assembly approves the impeachment of Park
20170310 Park impeached
20170509 Korea’s 19th presidential election
Since the existence of Sun-sil Choi was brought up to the public, it has angered people that the administration of the president was intervened with by someone who was not even a government official. Therefore, the people went out to the streets with candlelight in their hands in order to express their opinion towards the government. Many people believe that the public was responsible for impeaching President Geun-hye by exercising their rights to make a better country through candlelight rallies.
It was different from other rallies enacted in Korea in that this one showed a high level of participation compared to others. Even though the weather was freezing, many people came out to the streets and lit up their candles. As the participation rate was higher than ever, the age group of participants was very diverse. They were not only voters, but young children with their parents and teenagers. Many parents thought that participating could teach their children about the importance of being concerned about government and politics. People came to the rally with different motives but they all participated together to require resignation of Park. The large-scale rally was enacted at Gwanghwamun Plaza, Seoul, but small-scale rallies were also held in each district’s downtown for people who could not participate in the ones held in Seoul.
The noticeable point of this rally is that the public has exercised their rights by peaceful demonstration. As the rally’s scale got bigger, many people were concerned about disorder. However, the rally ended safely with no injuries. Accidents were all prevented by notices uploaded on Social Network, Services and other communities, by rally participants. People have marched towards Cheongwadae, the Blue House, with candle in their hands and they had exercised free speech during the rally. This peaceful demonstration received great interest from foreign media. Some have reacted that they were quite deeply impressed with Korea’s rational and peaceful response towards the scandal involving Park and her confidante, Sun-sil Choi.
While the candlelight rally have received interest because of its peaceful ways, there was also a protest that was quite extreme and intense. It is called “the Taegeukgi Protest”. The Taegeukgi Protest refers to people who have desperately opposed the former President Park’s impeachment. Peculiarly, they held Stars and Stripes together with Taegeukgi. Taegeukgi protesters were criticized by the public for this act because the public supposed that it meant to emphasize the Korea and US alliance, admitting Korea is a vassal state of the US. Even after president Park was impeached, they insisted that invalidation of the impeachment was invalid and held disordered protests, which have once again roused the public’s antipathy towards them. They usually protested near President Park’s private residence which threatened residents’ security living nearby. Even though they are criticized by the public, they do not seem to quit their preposterous acts.
People have defended their sovereignty by these peaceful rallies and have finally impeached the president. It was proven by the people that justice is still alive and that the nation’s rights can be protected with no violence. It was the victory of the candlelight.
The impeachment has already gained legislative approval. Therefore, now that the seat of president of Korea is empty, people should elect one. Following that, many broadcast centers are making various program regarding the next election.
For example, SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) made < The interview & Debate: Candidate for next election> and broadcasted it in March. 5 interviewers asked questions based on big data, which the candidates were expected to elaborate on specifically. The interviewee should show their willpower and ability to manage national disasters like the Sewol Ferry. For instance, here is one of the questions. “In 2018, Korea should be the host of the Olympics, but a serious plague spreads out all over the peninsula. The cancelation of the Olympics would mean that Korea should give up the income (About 8000million Won) and our international status would fall. If a candidate were president, what would be the best choice for the country?”
The interviewee should answer it with a plausible opinion and solution. Powerful candidates were the guests of that program such as Jae-in Mun, Hee-jung Ahn, and Jae-myung Lee. Also, “Caridoll news” from SBS, satired the entire situation and gave some comments on every candidate. It was performed by a dolls, not by real people, so it sometimes could be funny and easy to understand.
The next presidential election is on May 9. Whether people are interested in politics or not, they should take heavy responsibility for their rights. People should keep in mind that they are the real owners of the country.
by Ju-Yeon Han, CP Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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