01 December 2007

outside the office

a stream of cold water sprays protestors outside korea's national assembly

although the french strikes get more international airtime, you can get your fill of daily labor protests here in seoul, too. the kbs office isn't far from the national assembly building, the home of korea's parliament and the reason why i see at least three protests on my daily slog to and from work.

a phalanx of riot police

to enter the main kbs building, you must typically walk around the 20-100 part-time workers who protest with banners, loud music, drumming, dancing, etc. after several months of noisy stalemate between the workers and management, it's the infrequent quiet days when my co-host abby says she can't concentrate. on my way back home i also usually walk by a lone man in traditional korean attire and knee pads who performs an elaborate bowing ritual with 1-5 police close by. directly outside the national assembly gate is where individual koreans, usually wearing a sandwich board, are allowed to air their grievances without being molested, and they always do.

but the protest in these photos was especially large. police busses with metal grates protecting the windows blocked most streets and hundreds of riot police armed with water cannons drenched protestors on what was already a wet day. eventually the law enforcement grew tired of the mayhem and stormed the crowd. but unlike the wto bullshit that shook seattle a few years back, such widescale protests are just another day at the office for seoul's police. compared to seoul or manila, north america seems pretty protest-averse, eh?

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