Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yellow Ribbons

A few of the more than 1,400 yellow ribbons along the roadside to the late Noh Mu-hyun's home village, from The Hankyoreh.

There is increasing suspicion, and those suspicions are increasingly being voiced and printed, that the investigation of Noh on bribery charges was politically motivated. First, that the investigation began when Noh criticized the policies of his successor, current President Lee Myung-bak; second, that it was precipitously dropped upon Noh's death, which sent so blatantly obvious a signal that it's hard to believe it happened. It was imprudent, and perhaps arrogant as well, as though the prosecutors were sure that no one would connect the dots, or didn't care if anyone did.

Noh's funeral will take place this Friday. The Hankyoreh reports that 263 funeral halls have been set up around the country. A large-scale mourning assembly was scheduled for last night (the 26th) in Gwangju, and others are scheduled in Taegu and Busan tomorrow. Meanwhile, the police are still encircling mourning sites in Seoul itself, as President Lee tries to control and suppress public gatherings of any kind. I went to the City Hall area yesterday and found numerous areas staked out, subway exits blocked, and lines of police transports lining the streets.

I was going to take a picture closer up, but I got nervous about photographing the police at short range. I was standing closer to the buses with my camera, about to go ahead, when a little man in a "VOLUNTEER" vest came over and stood behind me. So I moved to the vantage point I used here. I'll go back before long and try to be a little braver.

P.S. OhMyNews has a good article on the mourning sites in Seoul, with links to slideshows like this one at Korean OhMyNews. The article says, among other things:
From the morning of May 25 to 1 pm on May 26, about 26,351 mourners paid their respects at the two government memorial centers; however over 150,000 mourners have attended the non-government centers at Deoksu Palace. Despite the relative ease and comfort of attending the government memorial centers and long hours of wait-lines at Deoksu Palace, citizens continue to gather at Deoksu Palace.
... and quotes a Mrs. Hwang at Deoksu:
"We came with our sister-in-law who is in her seventies but when she saw the police buses blocking the paths to the memorial centers, she kicked a police bus saying, 'If I only had the strength, I'd push this bus down.' So they [the government] think they can just set-up these memorial centers while still barricading Cheonggyechon square and City Hall square?"
Lines of mourners at Noh's home village, from The Hankyoreh.