Myanmar: Shades of Kwangju

2007 looks a lot like 1980 in some parts. I suppose every year kind of looks the same when you put it in to a broad perspective. Some people die. Some people are born. Some people get rich (er), some people get poor (er). There are some fads, and some jumps in technology. There are some social breakthroughs and there are some social back steps. Probably some wars and probably some demonstrations against tyranny, and those within the power structure keeping those against them down…all in all nothing ever really changes that much.

But for my purposes, lets just say that 2007 looks a lot like 1980 and not go much further than that.


Protests Against Government Official Results in Martial Law, Riots, Arrests, Deaths and Media Filtering!

Myanmar? Recently…

Kwangju? South Korea?


Pro-Democracy advocates were suppressed in the Southern city of Kwangju for demonstrating. The students rioted and the town was shut down. Martial law was initiated and over the next few days numbers say that 192 students/demonstrators were gunned down or beaten to death.

The military came in with tanks and night vision to use on their own citizens.

The students were voicing their dissatisfaction with the South Korean government which had been ruled more as a military dictatorship for the past 18 years until a coup ousted (killed) the former leader, Gen. Park Chung Hee. The coup occurred before the riots in Kwangju.

Now try to stay with me. The assassination occurred on October 26th, 1979. It was carried out by the head of the Korean CIA, Kim Jae Kyu.

This brought about the relatively liberalizing leadership of Choi Kyu Hah. He freed many who had been jailed for dissenting against the previous government regime, including the most vocal leader, Kim Dae Jung.

A few months later the person, Chun Doo-Hwan, set to investigate the coup jailed the ROK Army Chief of Staff after a violent shoot out in the countries Ministry of Defense. This is like a shoot out happening in the Pentagon.

After this Chun Doo-Hwan somehow reinstates military control of South Korea and puts back into jail Kim Dae-Jung, the anti-government leader. Kim Dae-Jung is sentenced to death.

Students are not happy, riots ensue.

The government is not happy, they kill rioters.

Why does this all sound so familiar?

Maybe because something incredibly similar happened 2 weeks ago in Myanmar.

And in 2006 and in 20052004199819921984



Kim Dae-Jung is not killed. America intervenes on the behalf of democracy and Kim is simply exiled. He returns in 1987 and wins the presidency in 1997.

Chun Doo-Hwan is president of South Korea till 1988 when he hands it over to his Major General Roh Tae-Woo who was also a commander of the armies who held back student the student protesters.

In 1996, then President Kim Young Sam called for the imprisonment of the two previous presidents, Roh and Chun for crimes such as treason and embezzlement. They were both convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In a twist of morality only found in the sappiest Hollywood movies both of the two convicted presidents are pardoned by none other then newly elected President, Kim Dae-Jung. The very man they tried to kill and lock up.

Other links:

One reporter snuck into Kwangu. Here is his account.

A brief history of South Korea. That mentions the riots and the Coups.


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Filed under Culture, Narratives, Politics

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