Korean Protests Baffle Belgians

    March 22, 2006 19:55

    Six young Korean men in yellow vests on Tuesday afternoon gathered in front of the Stock Exchange in Brussels chanting, "No War, No Bush.” They had spent 11 hours and 30 minutes on board a plane to make their point in protest against an international conference on North Korean human rights that started there the same day.

    They handed out leaflets to passersby, one of which read, "South Korea became independent 60 years ago but is still colonized by the U.S.” in English and French.

    One citizen neatly folded his leaflet saying, “I don't feel like throwing this out. It’s a kind of a souvenir from these Asian men.” When told they came from Korea, he mentioned an “excellent” football team, but confessed to not knowing that the two Koreas are divided.

    Some 30 minutes later, three policemen approached the Koreans, warning them they had registered their assembly on the other side of the road and telling them to stop handing out leaflets and leave. Protestors also put on street performances, including a traditional dance and a shaman ritual for cleansing the soul of a dead person.

    Students and civic activists on an ‘Expedition for Peace on the Korean Peninsula’ perform in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon to protest against an international conference on North Korean human rights there.

    They denounced “U.S. hegemony” and demanded the U.S. Forces Korea leave the peninsula. “People here in Brussels rarely respond to what we say,” their spokesman complained. “It seems that they were taken by surprise as they have never seen protests of the kinds we are holding now.” He then addressed his fellow demonstrators in Korean, saying, “Comrades! I want you to be proud of showing the Korean way of assembling and protesting!”

    Some people took pictures of the musical performance with their cell phones. “This is a great festival,” a Belgian who gave his name as M. Belforge (62) said, "Are they a traditional Korean performance troupe?”

    "I think the experience of visiting Brussels for our purposes is important in itself,” said Han Sang-ryul, a representative of the Solidarity for Reunification, which organizes the so-called “Expedition for Peace on the Korean Peninsula.” It cost W1.3 million (US$1,300) for each member of the coalition to come to Brussels, or more than W100 million in total.

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