A friend from Middlebury who is studying in Japan for a year visited me last weekend. We went to the usual tourist places that are on every “things to see in Seoul” list, as well as thing she wanted to see. But despite planning our days out, we still did not know what Seoul had in store for us.
I’m not familiar with when Korea’s holidays or special calendar dates are, but it felt like that Saturday was one for protest. On March 24th, my friend and I went to the Gyeongbokgung palace, and it was beautiful inside. However, what was more interesting was the loud sound of someone on a microphone outside the front gate.
Minimum Wage Protest
We were afraid and then extremely curious about the event going on outside. When we went to see the commotion, we found it was a protest about minimum wage in Seoul. From what I saw, the group consisted of mostly 40-50 year old men and women. It’s interesting to think the protest considering age, because most people in the U.S. who receive minimum wage are young people. But I wasn’t surprised by the elders, because I have seen a lot of people in their age group doing lower-paying jobs.
After that protest, we went around Insadong and found ourselves witnessing another protest. This one, I’m not sure what it’s meaning was. It was a street march, but before people started walking, a car drove drive first. On the car was a lady in military attire and yelling something I can’t recall. But I did remember that the car also had a sign that said something about Donald Trump.
I still don’t know the origins of that protest, but by the third one we got caught up in, I got a better sense of what they were trying to say.
This one wasn’t held on Saturday, but I believe Monday. After my classes, I went to Itaewon with the same friend, and that’s where we saw this one. We were just walking along the sidewalk when all of a sudden, police men followed by other men went marching along the opposite direction. They held up banners that were in Korean, so I couldn’t make out what it said. However, I did see the names that were written on for coffins they dragged. The names were of the past and present leaders of North Korea.
They really nailed pathos on the head with that demonstration.
A man who was marching also smiled at my friend and asked, “America?” And like what I think everyone should do in that situation, she didn’t respond.
Nevertheless, my friend and I got a real experience of how Koreans are dealing with the difficulties of today’s world. I mentioned that the first protest mainly consisted of elders, but the last two were no different. Create your own thoughts on that, but one thing for certain is they sit on the chins of North Korea and political heat is rising for everyone.