Koreans know how to throw a party. While Koreans are angry over the alleged corruption of their president, Park Geun-hye, the mood at many of the protests is festive, with kids and families present.
Koreans are embarrassed over the images of protests in prior years, which featured violent clashes with police and anti-American slogans and U.S. flag burning. But now, with the advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter, Koreans are well aware that the world is watching. Since saving face is a strong proponent of Korean culture and often determines how Koreans act in certain circumstances, demonstrators have been civil for the most part — as they want the world to see them as a nation that has arrived.
Not only that, at the front of many of the demonstrations at Gwanghamun Square, a stage has been set up where people not only make speeches but where music is blasted to the crowd. The protests has spurned the mantra “haya, haya, haya,” which is a call for the president to step down, and Korean rock star Lim Han-bin wrote a catchy song that is being blasted over loudspeakers at many of the protests.
The song is a re-write of a song chanted at sports games, and describes President Park as a puppet who “screwed the nation.”
The lyrics are harsh but humorous, and the upbeat tune is the one most heard at rallies nationwide, with lines such as “arrest Park Geun-hye. …. Cough out all the money you have gobbled up.”
But despite calls for weeks to step down, Park is holding on to power in what many Korans describe as the actions of a stubborn old woman who believes that the nation of Korea belongs to her and her family. Many Koreans perceive her as believing that Koreans are her children and that she sees herself as a strict mother who knows what is best for them. This perceived attitude has enraged many Koreans, as they see themselves as the voice of a modern democracy, and not the loyal subjects of a queen.
Park is the daughter of former iconic president Park Chung-hee, who many elderly Koreans revere as the president who just a few decades ago took a third world nation with a GDP the size of a banana republic and turned it into the cash machine it is today. While young and middle-aged Koreans tend to focus on the elder Park’s abuse of power, older Koreans say he developed Korea into a strong and rich nation.
Indeed, feisty grandmas and grandpas have been seen at Seoul Station holding placards in support of the current president — and chanting loudly! — yelling “fuck you!” (in Korean) at passersby who disagree with them. Some of them, who grew up under what was the very real threat of North Korea, or even lived through the Korean War, describe the protesters as ungrateful little brats (despite the fact that many protesters over over age 40).
In any event, with fun theme songs and an upbeat tone to the rallies – not to mention that Park refuses to step down amid public anger – the protests will likely continue.
Check out Korea’s groovy theme music in the video above.
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