Sunday, May 31, 2009

LAT on South Korean reaction to Roh Moohyun's death

John Glionna, the new person on the ground for the Los Angeles Times, gives his take on former President Roh Moohyun's death, particularly the "liberal" angle:
A million mourners packed into the community, which is dotted by rice fields and light industry warehouses. Round the clock they have come, bowing humbly and wiping away tears, placing chrysanthemums beneath a portrait of the 62-year-old Roh.

In South Korea, incoming administrations typically savage those who preceded them. Many of Roh's supporters talk of a smear campaign -- news media leaks by prosecutors and a vendetta by the Lee Myung-bak administration.

"It's a political murder," said Sohn Dae-jeong, 40, who had arrived at Bongha after a five-hour overnight bus trip from Seoul. "The administration, the conservative newspapers, the prosecutors, they killed him. I hope they are happy now."
Even though it's a few days old, it's still a good read.


  1. Shallow report that effectively paints Roh as a martyr, just as his supporters would like. What about e-Jiwon-gate, which was certainly another "Roh scandal"? What about the way the progressives and liberals literally tried to overthrow the LMB government here last year? Roh was "murdered" by the ChoJoongDong? Maybe Roh should have been more diplomatic and careful before picking a fight against such powerful adversaries. There was a context leading up to the investigation into the Park Yeon-cha influence-peddling case, but you would have no clue about it reading that article. Also, one of LMB's closest associates, Chun Shin-il, was just charged and summoned for arrest in the Park Yeon-cha affair, so it's not like the prosecutors were only going after Roh. Congratulations, LA Times -- you've been "owned" by Nosamo!

  2. I think you're right about what's missing, but I think it does a decent job of describing thoughts on the ground (judging by what people back in Korea with whom I've discussed this are telling me).

    Whether those thoughts on the ground are correct or valid is another matter, of course.

  3. "I think it does a decent job of describing thoughts on the ground"

    Yes, true, but look where he filed from -- Bongha, HQ for the Nosamu ideologues. He was "reporting" on a very self-selecting sample group. For balance, he should have also gone to Apkujong or Dogok-dong, and I bet he would have gotten some very different answers and opinions. And let's be honest -- quite a few more people live in Kangnam than in tiny little Bongha Village, don't they?

    Anyway, Roh is not a martyr, which is the main thing that irked me about that story.

  4. By the way, I've discussed Roh's death with people here on both the far left (literally Marxist-Leninists) and people on the right, and they weren't at all sad about his passing. One conservative ajosshi was complaining about all the money and aid Roh sent to the North. Another close artist friend in Insadong had a classic line. I asked him what he thought about about Roh and he merely replied, "He was a 'gagman.'" LOL!

  5. EDIT: Nosamu should be Nosamo in Comment No. 3


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