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Opposition MP lets off tear gas in parliament
November 23, 2011 12:35 PM   Subscribe

South Korean MP Kim Sun-dong sets off a tear gas canister in parliament to try to block passage of a free trade agreement with the US. Another video here.
posted by Numenius (58 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
> <
. o
.
posted by zeoslap at 12:38 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh, the youtube commercial before the clip was for Bisolvon.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:38 PM on November 23, 2011


Wall Street Journal:
It’s very possible Mr. Kim won’t face any charges. Lawmakers who have wielded chainsaws and hammers to break down doors at committee meetings haven’t been penalized in the past. And parliament stepped back from expelling a lawmaker in August despite the politician getting a suspended jail term for defamatory sexual remarks.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:40 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, why is he against Free Trade? Doesn't he know it's unicorns and rainbows and smiles?
posted by Jehan at 12:40 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is the use of teargas a metacommentary of some sort about the US?
posted by roll truck roll at 12:41 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


At least in one of our countries the right people are getting teargassed.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:42 PM on November 23, 2011 [29 favorites]


Kim Sun-dong
Everybody knows one...

posted by tigrefacile at 12:45 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I thought politics was boring!
posted by Soliloquy at 12:48 PM on November 23, 2011


Tear gas: It's essentially an eye moisturizer!
posted by yeloson at 12:50 PM on November 23, 2011 [21 favorites]


Damn, that's pretty hardcore.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:53 PM on November 23, 2011


America used to be this crazy and awesome. And crazyawesome.

Stay gold, you bright beautiful Star Tigers.
posted by Poppa Bear at 12:54 PM on November 23, 2011


I would *so* watch CSPAN Korea.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:00 PM on November 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


America used to be this crazy and awesome.

The U.S. politicians who were that kind of crazy weren't particularly awesome.
posted by TedW at 1:04 PM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure CSPAN Korea would be pay-per-view.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:05 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, Taiwan is really gonna have to up their legislative violence game now.
posted by alexoscar at 1:08 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see it's only 6:15 am in Korea - it will be interesting to hear the Korean mefites' perspectives when they get online.
posted by desjardins at 1:14 PM on November 23, 2011


I know nothing about this at all and understand even less. That said: FOR
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:17 PM on November 23, 2011


This is going to start being a "thing", isn't it? I can't wait until the next time the Jehovah Witnesses ring my doorbell.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:25 PM on November 23, 2011


I can't help but think the reactions here would be radically different if it happened in the US.
posted by desjardins at 1:28 PM on November 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


The current Democratic opposition party (when they were in power) tabled a free trade deal with the US. They later claimed the deal was too favorable to American interests and not favorable enough to South Korea, and now oppose it.

The current Grand National party in power wants to pass the deal. Even though they have a majority of seats, they decided to surprise the opposition with a snap vote and physically block them from the chamber so the Democrats couldn't vote against it. There was some fighting outside the door.

An opposition MP named Kim Sun-dong was so frustrated and (presumably) angry, he got a tear gas cannister from somewhere and set it off in the chamber in an attempt to stop the vote. It didn't work.

Not a great day for Korean democracy any which way you look at it.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:33 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


I had someone mention this to me last night and they were puzzled when I kind of shrugged with a meh, it happens. I mean the only answer I could give was, "Dude, when it comes to protesting against shit or showing their disdain for public policy, people go hard in Korea." Like turning on the news and seeing politicians tussle like it's a barroom brawl on the Assembly floor isn't really all that new. Free trade is also a long and sore issue in Korea. It's something that's been going on for years.

It's not just a politicians thing it's like some national mentality that I AM SERIOUS ABOUT THIS NOW, then doing something like setting off some tear gas totally is something you would do.

The best part is if you understand the reaction of the murmurings and voices you hear in the video. It's pretty blaise and convey annoyance more than shock or horror. Most of the reactions you hear at the beginning is like Korean equivalent "Ugh, dude, really? The fuck man?" (looks like Reuters didn't have someone on hand to notice/censor out cursing so you hear a "ssibal" or two in there)

It's a country where tear gas and molotov cocktails flew pretty liberally during the 80s student protests (I'd get watery eyes and scratchy throat playing outside sometimes as a kid just because you might be downwind from a clash. Imagine a 7 year old saying "Cough, Cough...I think it's tear gas again, mom.")

I mean, politicians against Roh Moo Hyun's impeachment "occupied" the Assembly floor (then getting physically dragged out by security and opposition politicians) before there was an Occupy Wall Street. Dudes crashing cars into the Assembly building to show their disagreement is a thing that happens, not to mention immolation. The union strike standard is to shave your head to show how serious you are or write blood letters in your blood. Not to mention you got dudes in their 40s and 50s then try to grapple with riot cops in their 20s and pick up 2x4s. My favorite public brawl has got to be when in the 90s one of the Buddhist big wigs died and in the course of trying to find a successor in the resulting power vaccuum, it got UGLY and after a particularly heated meeting and then there were a bunch of Buddhist monks duking it out like the last big fight scene from Blazing Saddles.
posted by kkokkodalk at 1:37 PM on November 23, 2011 [33 favorites]


"Not a great day for Korean democracy any which way you look at it."

So we're not going to consider this a legitimate ratification right? Because we care so much about the legitimacy of South Korean democracy and all.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:37 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


"...not to mention immolation."

!

Yes, that is definitely hardcore.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:42 PM on November 23, 2011


Is it just me, or is the US Congress the most boring legislative body in the world?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:51 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The U.S. politicians who were that kind of crazy weren't particularly awesome.

Rebuttal.
posted by Poppa Bear at 1:52 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the use of teargas a metacommentary of some sort about the US?

They also grow hot peppers in Mexico. Metacommentary about the US is everywhere you look man, it's scary.
posted by stbalbach at 1:56 PM on November 23, 2011


democracy is hilarious.
posted by Hoopo at 1:59 PM on November 23, 2011


The U.S. politicians who were that kind of crazy weren't particularly awesome.

Rebuttal.



BENTON! Oh, Jesus Christ!
posted by Jughead at 2:05 PM on November 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, if the Republicans would run somebody like caned Senator Charles Sumner for president, he'd have my vote.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:13 PM on November 23, 2011


Tear gas is the new black.
posted by vibrotronica at 2:14 PM on November 23, 2011


This is totally going to be a question on wait wait don't tell me this week.
posted by foodgeek at 2:16 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a fight like this every year. They take a rule that something is not resolved until the gavel is banged literally, and thus, a brawl breaks out when an issue like this comes up.

The impression I get is that Koreans of a certain age are just more blasé about certain kinds of fighting and violence.

My dad grew up in post-war Seoul (and is about the age of a lot of these politicians) which was very impoverished, and there were a lot of unattended kids. He told me how as a part of everyday life:

- Gangs of kids - including "good kids" that studied and did well in school - would get together in packs carrying shields and rocks and roam around finding other packs to pelt.

- In elementary school, every boy had to fight every other boy in his class and received a rank. They all knew each others' ranks.

- A favorite pastime was finding unexploded munitions left behind by the US military and exploding them.

Yet somehow, they tended to be able to leave that behind by the time they grew up. While plenty of kids got hurt or injured messing with explosives, death from fight escalation was rare. My dad (and uncles) are completely non-violent, inside and outside of the house. I have no idea how that all works. It might have to do with everyone knowing everyone else's parents? Intense high school discipline? I can't really say.

Given that my dad's family wasn't poor or at least not "lower class," I am not surprised that a lot of professional-class people of that age in Korea would think that the tear gas move (and the chainsaw and the fighting in general in the Assembly) is childish and classless but wouldn't gasp at it as if it was an act of terrorism like they would in the US House of Representatives.

I have no idea if the post-war Korea childhood I described is a generation-wide norm, but it certainly was for people in some neighborhoods in Seoul, many of which became generally non-violent professionals.
posted by ignignokt at 2:24 PM on November 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


My dad (and uncles) are completely non-violent, inside and outside of the house. I have no idea how that all works.

You noted it already. Everybody knows everybody else's rank.
posted by notyou at 2:28 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


They also grow hot peppers in Mexico. Metacommentary about the US is everywhere you look man, it's scary.

Um, he was protesting a major trade agreement with America.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:30 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everybody knows everybody else's rank.

Tear gas does make you smell pretty bad.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:31 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Currently in Korean news headlines: police arrest 11 protesters after shooting water cannons to disperse an estimated 7000 protesting against the free trade agreement and the manner of its passage .

I had to dig around a bit to find out more about the teargas incident, as it was already "yesterday's news." At this point what interest there is is more on where Kim got the tear gas canister (it was tear gas produced for police use in 1985, and police believe student protesters from the period may have wrested it from riot police and the canister eventually found its way to Kim) and the foreign media's reaction to the incident ("a national embarrassment"). But yeah, overall, as igninokt says, people are not gasping in astonishment at the act.

(My mother in Seoul who avidly watches the news didn't even consider the incident worth mentioning during our regular phone conversation ... )
posted by needled at 2:34 PM on November 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm wondering if Senator Reid might consider adopting this tactic to block a filibuster?
posted by Numenius at 2:34 PM on November 23, 2011


It's a country where tear gas and molotov cocktails flew pretty liberally during the 80s student protests (I'd get watery eyes and scratchy throat playing outside sometimes as a kid just because you might be downwind from a clash. Imagine a 7 year old saying "Cough, Cough...I think it's tear gas again, mom.")


(it was tear gas produced for police use in 1985, and police believe student protesters from the period may have wrested it from riot police and the canister eventually found its way to Kim)


Oh wow, I was there. In May 1985 I happened to be home from college because my own university was undergoing a huge strike by the students and the Chancellor was eventually replaced. Mom wanted to tour Japan and Korea for her 40th, so off we went. After 10 days in Japan we land in Seoul, a package tour from Malaysia, and are in our airport bus on the way to check in to the hotel when we hear urgent warnings over the PA in three languages to close our windows (as well as all the vents). We were passing by the university and they were rioting, there was tear gas in the streets, and we looked out like the good little tourists we were, at S.Korea.
posted by infini at 2:49 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


There really should be an FPP looking at the prevalence of disruptive activity (as a matter of course) in different Parliaments in the world.
posted by infini at 2:50 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


There really should be an FPP looking at the prevalence of disruptive activity (as a matter of course) in different Parliaments in the world.

Yes!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:59 PM on November 23, 2011


I should have said "Hear, hear".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:59 PM on November 23, 2011


Yeah, but just imagine what sort of threadshitting that would invite.
posted by No-sword at 3:28 PM on November 23, 2011


But then it would be a matter of course no?
posted by infini at 4:03 PM on November 23, 2011


Well, I like to think we don't refrain from making posts in good faith simply for fear of threadshitting, just as we do refrain from making posts that invite it. But I'm an idealist like that.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:06 PM on November 23, 2011


When do we get to use the phrase "[username] teargassed the thread"?
posted by fuq at 5:05 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not a great day for Korean democracy any which way you look at it.

I disagree strongly. Not that I think this kind of infantile behaviour, which, as others have mentioned, is par for the course with the... less than dignified individuals in question, is a high point, exactly.

But democracy in Korea is, I would argue, even in spite of the corruption, the collusion, and the ample dirt, more vibrant and alive and less bought-and-paid-for than it is in America or Canada, to pick two examples closer to my notional 'home'.

Childish outbursts like this are embarrassing to ordinary Koreans, deeply, but in general they (rightfully) distrust government, having learned hard lessons through blood and struggle and death less than a generation ago. Folks do latch on to leaders -- a regrettable but historically consistent behaviour -- but there is a kind of indulgent tolerance for antics like this, and a full awareness on the part of the populace and the politicians in question that they are there only as a result of that tolerance.

The other part of the equation, which has been gestured at before, is that many of the politicians in power now are of the so-called 386 generation (born in the 60s, students in the 80s, basically) or older, and these (mostly) men came up through eras of truly violent protest, when the only way (or at least the only way that had any observable effect) to protest against tyranny was violence. It doesn't excuse the puerility of this kind of thing, but it goes some way to drawing a dotted line back to its roots in the Chun Doo Hwan/Noh Tae Woo era, and back further to the student protests that destabilized things enough to let Park Chung Hee take over for his 18-year reign that ended in his assassination in '79). The tradition of desperate protest is alive and well here, but manifests itself in odd and outré ways sometimes.

It seems counterintuitive, but I've felt that since the point that I personally mark as the emergence of 'modern Korea', politically -- the election of Kim Dae Jung in '97 -- things like this, and mass protest (which has quieted down a lot in recent years, thanks in part to things just plain getting better for most people) have been signs that democracy here is vibrant and alive, rather than the opposite.

Having a politician set off a tear gas canister like this seems a little sad and funny and is embarrassing to ordinary Koreans, who are much more aware of the world outside and the way it does things than they were even 10 years ago, but don't believe it's a sign of things going wrong. The opposite, if anything.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 PM on November 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is taking the drop of the gavel, meaning end of discussion, to the extreme. This is premeditated. Yeah, where did he get the teargas? Unlike someone we know whom faced a shoe.Didn't Khruszchev pound a table with a shoe, showing his extreme dkspleasure...

Say, don't they/ screen everyone entering parliament? What next, cause a distraction by spraying the room with an uzi!

Passionate is one thing, but is his action supposed to intimidate anyone from hitting the gavel? Nope.
posted by alicesshoe at 5:37 PM on November 23, 2011


And mildly related, your Korean language/culture note of the day: If you are in a disagreement with someone and you simply will not budge on an issue, and this is the hill you plan to die on and there's no way you're doing anything about it, the Korean equivalent of "Come at me, bro"+"I have no fucks to give" is "bae jjae," meaning "Cut my stomach open." It is a statement that depending on method of delivery or situation can convey hopelessness and despair in a sight of an insurmountable adversary (Crooked developers bulldozing your lower-income neighborhood? Lie in the way of the bulldozers and balefully cry out that they split your belly) or absolute anger and fed upness at shit not going the way it's supposed to. It's a linguistic red card that only gets pulled out in the most dire of situations where you don't care how uncouth you sound, but is one of my favorites and a delight in how much it can convey in a simple phrase.
posted by kkokkodalk at 5:38 PM on November 23, 2011 [24 favorites]


Pretty good English language summary of how things went down regarding the free trade agreement with the U.S.
posted by needled at 5:59 PM on November 23, 2011


Pretty good English language summary of how things went down regarding the free trade agreement with the U.S.

Beware comments threads at Koehler's site, though. They're almost always a hive of scum and villainy, and best avoided.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:04 PM on November 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


As mentioned, a link to Marmot's Hole is a link to a cesspool of racism and misogyny. Click through at your own risk.

What's cute though is RJ Koehler is a He-man libertarian who works for a goverment organization.

Gotta love Randroids.
posted by bardic at 7:17 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The people in this thread that are down with "free trade" realize that currently things between the US are a one-way street, right? In exchange for all the cheap (but higher-quality-than-Ford) Hyundai's and Kia, not to mention Samsung phones and TVs, what does the US get to sell to the Koreans in return? I suppose there is defense hardware, but certainly not consumer goods.

Those lost American manufacturing jobs everyone is talking about went to Korea (among many other countries). An FTA might just be in the interests of the average working person in the US.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:07 PM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's cute though is RJ Koehler is a He-man libertarian who works for a goverment organization.

Meh, if you avoid the comments or any of the posts on American politics, the site is great source of Korea news.

I'm almost certain that something happens to the majority of American expat bloggers (in Asia) to make them go all moonbat crazy. I'm thinking specifically of JapanProbe and What Japan Thinks, both of which totally downplay and sneer away any and all radiation risks in post-Fukushima Japan. On the other side of the spectrum is Debito, who is his own special variety of crazy.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:13 PM on November 23, 2011


In Canada, the worst thing an Opposition MP can do is apparently to say "fuck" on Twitter, like MP Pat Martin did last week.

Now I'm imagining the reaction if he'd opened a can of tear gas while Harper was speaking in Question Period...
posted by problemspace at 8:14 PM on November 23, 2011


What's cute though is RJ Koehler is a He-man libertarian who works for a goverment organization.

I am amazed (though I really shouldn't be) at the number of Libertarians I've met who derive their entire salary from tax money (then whine about having to pay taxes).
posted by dirigibleman at 11:13 PM on November 23, 2011


Meanwhile, North Korea threatens with their yearly (quarterly?) sea of fire.
posted by needled at 8:28 AM on November 24, 2011


In elementary school, every boy had to fight every other boy in his class and received a rank. They all knew each others' ranks.

That is so incredibly fucked up.
posted by e40 at 9:13 AM on November 24, 2011


Just because it's easy to forget how small the internets really are (and I feel a bit bad after the Marmot sent me an email), I want to clarify that I think RJ Koehler's blog itself is just fine. As the 800-pound gorilla of English-language Korea blogs, it provides a useful service for Korea-watchers, even if I don't entirely agree with some (well, quite a few) of his takes on things Korean.

It's the comment threads -- for which he is onstensibly responsible as host, perhaps, but that's an entirely other discussion right there -- that I find frequently objectionable, and that keep me from being a regular visitor there.

Which is more a comment on the less savoury elements of the Korean expat community than anything else, I reckon.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:54 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


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