Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Don't worry folks, it's normal."

In the aftermath of the Korean farmer riot in Hong Kong comes this amusing quote:

[A Korean resident of Hong Kong] told the JoongAng Daily on the telephone that she was already facing questions. "People that I know came up to me and asked why the protests had to be so violent and whether that was normal in Korea," she said.

I think we all know the answer to this one. There is no mistaking the ubiquitous riot police buses in Seoul. Reminds me of a story.

A couple years ago I was walking down stairs to the Kwangwhamun subway station in the heart of Seoul. As I descended from the top, a young foreign couple who had "tourist" written all over them was ascending. They were fumbling with a map discussing geography as they suddenly looked up to the top.

There the saw me flanked with the two riot police guards normally posted at the top of any Kwangwhamun entrance. Behind me was a demonstration of some sort with the standard headbands and somebody shouting at the top of their lungs though a tinny speaker on a minivan. The young couple looked up, wide eyed, mouths agape, and totally fearful of the picture of impending doom awaiting them.

Noticing their discomfort at the scene, I gave them the only advice I could as I passed by, "Don't worry folks, it's normal."


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