Yongsan and the People Who Cannot Leave
On January 20th, five people were caught in fire. Their corpses stayed in the freezers while one of the hottest summers went by. The bereaved wanted nothing but an apology from those responsible along with a means to carry on with their lives since their previous stores were demolished due to the redevelopment cause. The weather is turning cold without a single funeral held during the nine months since the tragedy.
The Korean government is more than refusing to hear from anyone related to ‘Yongsan.’ No demonstration has been given permit by neither the Seoul City nor the Yongsan District and were violently quelled by the police if taken place. Even one-person demonstrations or religious gatherings were suppressed, with the prosecutors and the police denying any responsibility regarding the deaths. They are pursuing a partial trial where only the families and friends of the bereaved are tried, and are refusing to disclose their information, ignoring the judge’s orders.
Many see the reason behind this extreme sensitivity and one-waywardness of the Korean government to be that the officials themselves know that they have been making and enacting inhumane policies. The main cause of the Yongsan Tragedy is because of the Redevelopment scheme, which has been compelling those who originally lived or made a living somewhere to move out with little consideration and even less compensation, mainly in large cities where ‘visual improvements’ were thought necessary by the bureaucrats.
The inhumanness of the Redevelopment projects were pointed out long before Yongsan Tragedy occurred, just that the mainstream media and the policymakers who personally had a lot of asset invested into real estate wanted the construction boom to go on. Yongsan was and is being very rapidly developed by the Seoul city as a new business center along with the ‘2010 Design Capital’ project. When the greed and its speed resulted in the killing of five who had no other means of continuing livelihood but to resist, due to what little ‘compensation’ they have for the stores that made possible their living, the government acted as if it were a real estate investor and was merely eager to cover it up.
The government probably expected Yongsan to be misunderstood and forgotten, soon. Unfortunately for them, the memory and the struggle are shared and carried on. The supporters and families stay on the site of the tragedy day and night, while a people’s court is going to be held this weekend with more than ten thousand people accusing the Korean president, the mayor of Seoul, former Head of Seoul Police, former Head of Prosecutors and the construction companies of the five deaths of those who had to die only because they wanted to live. Until respect and justice sees full light, we cannot leave Yongsan. Can you? Join us at http://mbout.jinbo.net