April 20, 2016 9:36 AM   Subscribe

AP: South Korea covered up mass abuse, killings of 'vagrants'. [no graphic pictures but deeply unpleasant]
Choi was one of thousands — the homeless, the drunk, but mostly children and the disabled — rounded up off the streets ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which the ruling dictators saw as international validation of South Korea's arrival as a modern country. ... The owner of Brothers, Park, received two state medals for social welfare achievements and sat on a government advisory panel. His version of his story even inspired a 1985 television drama about a man's heroic devotion to caring for what were called "bottom-life people."
posted by grobstein (13 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Let me put in a word here for one of my favourite movies, Yang Yoon-Ho's Holiday, which deals with the same subject.

(By which I mean the South Korean government's use of gangsters to clear 'undesirables' from the streets of Seoul -- not the children's home stuff which was completely new to me.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is SOUTH Korea??
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:01 AM on April 20, 2016

This is SOUTH Korea??

Yes - its modern history has been marked by a thrashing back and forth between military dictatorships and nominally democratic governments. The last instance of the former arguably ended in 1987.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:06 AM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ahn Jeong-tae, an official from Seoul's Ministry of the Interior, said focusing on just one human rights incident would financially burden the government and set a bad precedent. The Brothers' victims, he said, should have submitted their case to a temporary truth-finding commission established in the mid-2000s to investigate past atrocities.

"We can't make separate laws for every incident and there have been so many incidents since the Korean War," Ahn said.
posted by clawsoon at 10:11 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had heard about various dictators unreasonably pushing Korea to "modernize" from my dad. Most of his stories were related to construction, and the accidents and sometimes deaths that resulted from President Park (Park Chung Hee) forcing people to build roads and buildings under ridiculous deadlines in attempt to catch up with the West and Japan.

It only makes too much sense that, given the desire to catch up and the ROK's history of brutality in the service of order, this kind of massive atrocity would happen. But I am still pretty shocked, having read all of that.

Also, I can't help think of the alt-right subjects of the article a few threads down that are trying to bring back autocracy and just how inconceivable the admiration of this sort of state is, given everything we know.
posted by ignignokt at 10:27 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

We can't make separate laws for every incident and there have been so many incidents

You don't need to reinvent the wheel (or start making laws) after each separate incident, you make one set of laws that cover all or at least most of those 'incidents' --- and god, what an awful minimizing term that is, 'incident'.
posted by easily confused at 10:32 AM on April 20, 2016

there have been so many incidents

Yes, indeed. Like, for instance, the Kwangju Uprising May 1980... American newscasts coverage of the mayhem
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:53 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you look at Wikipedia's list of Massacres of the Vietnam War a surprising number of those incidents were carried out by South Korean forces.
posted by XMLicious at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm very impressed with the persistence of the pro-democracy protests. Based on the events the '70s and '80s, it seemed incredibly unlikely that they'd make it to democracy. You'd think 30 years of Japanese dictatorship and then 40 years of Korean dictators would make them quit. There's still obviously work to do, but that is a large boulder to inch out from under.
posted by ignignokt at 11:42 AM on April 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

So, would it be correct to say that South Korea was an analog to Pinochet's Chile? I guess I'm merely trying to get a sense of scale in this. (Not that I know very much about Pinochet's Chile, and I don't want to derail the thread.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:50 AM on April 21, 2016

It was much worse than Pinochet's Chile. For a start, Chile never had a history of dictatorship until the CIA under Nixon's direction started their campaign against Allende. South Korea meanwhile was created as a military dictatorship from the start.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:26 AM on April 21, 2016

is a minor point in another BONG Joon-ho film, The Host

The Host was the movie that made me obsessive about Korean cinema, which in turn pushed me into watching Korean TV dramas.

I'm struck by watching them how big a theme the Gwangju uprising plays in Korean pop culture. I'm sure I've seen a bunch of movies or dramas which successful politicians became that way due to being student activists at Gwangju.

Of course, by now, they're inevitably paying off gangsters with slush funds they've been given by chaebol owners -- in the movies, at least.

So is this a real thing or just a story plot point? (The activist background, not the gangster/slush fund stuff.) Korean politicians seem so conservative, it's hard to imagine them being drawn from the ranks of student radicals.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:26 AM on April 23, 2016

Roh Moo-Hyun (anyone know why it's Romanized as "Roh"?) came from an activist background. While not a student, he was a human rights lawyer that defended student activists and people abused by authorities. He also ended his career in bribery-related disgrace.
posted by ignignokt at 11:50 AM on April 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

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