Chosun Ilbo Attacked as Street Violence Escalates

    June 27, 2008 10:56

    Parts of the Chosun Ilbo's logo are seen lying on the top of a pile of garbage demonstrators hurled at the newspaper's building in Taepyeongro, Seoul.
    The violence of candlelight vigil protesters has taken another leap as the demonstrators attacked a journalist and vandalized buildings and facilities of conservative newspapers. Some 50 protesters who occupied Taepyeongro early Thursday morning went to the Chosun Ilbo building on the street. They scattered garbage in the entrance to the building, and called other protesters passing by to do the same.

    About 10 minutes later, a masked protester placed a ladder at the foot of the entrance. At the same time, somebody blocked a CCTV camera in the Koreana Hotel, located in the same building, with a flag.

    It was the flag of the Gyeonggi branch of the New Progressive Party. While the flag was blocking the CCTV camera, the masked man climbed up the ladder and began to tear up the logo of the Chosun Ilbo with a hammer. The crowd instantly grew as others came over to watch. After 10 minutes of hammering, the Chosun Ilbo logo was destroyed, and the man threw the debris on the pile of garbage next to him. The crowd cheered. The protesters threw empty cans, garbage, and leftovers from instant cup noodles onto the stock of trash. Three or four protesters urinated in front of the entrance. The demonstrators scribbled derisory messages like “Next time I will shit,” “Chosun Ilbo, stop publication,” and “Candles are alive.” Protesters did similar things to the Dong-A Ilbo building.

    On Wednesday night, Lee Kwang-hoe from the Chosun Ilbo's Internet News Desk was detained by hundreds of protesters for an hour in Shinmunro, and attacked. Lee, covering the downtown area for his story, saw a male protester in his 40s seizing a police bus and trying to drive it to the Gwanghwamun direction. Lee called the news desk to report this and was overheard by protesters. They confronted Lee, asking why he used the word “seize” and asked for his identification to see if he was an agent provocateur. In this process, some demonstrators punched and kicked him.

    Lee identified himself as a reporter for the Chosun Ilbo, and strongly protested at the use of force. Thanks to mediation by a lawyer from the civic group Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Lee was able to escape the scene, but the protesters continued to threaten and swear at him. “I told them that I was covering the area for my story, and asked them to let me go. I showed my Chosun Ilbo ID card to the lawyer, and the lawyer persuaded the protesters to let me go,” said Lee. But the crowd followed Lee, poured water on him, pulled him by the jacket, and kicked and punched him. Lee found refuge in a pub nearby, but the protesters chased him up to the entrance. He was finally rescued after midnight when colleagues came to rescue him.

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