We had a long discussion, then a lovely little farewell party for S, who will no longer be meeting us. Though I have had red-eye all day, it’s played out well.
I could not sleep on the train because two women beside me were talking nonstop. Well, it is unusual for me to nap in the morning anyway. I am waiting for an express bus to take me home in half an hour and hoping that I will get some shut-yey on the way like I did on the last train trip home from Seoul a couple of weeks ago.
S is leaving Korea to move back to his homeland and teach there, possibly in the far north. He has been a great comrade and I’ll miss him. Everyone said that for he is calm, quiet, reliable, intelligent, politically astute and deeply dedicated to the people’s movements for change. That is why we wanted a party for him. We drank Cuban rum, made speeches and sang. I got stupidly sentimental when I made my speech. I am always like that, and I guess hot having had a mate for so long makes it worse these days.
We lingered after the party, making a stop at a rally then sitting in a café. I really needed to start my trip home relatively early in the evening, so I tore myself away.
It is 7:30 p.m. I bought some kimbap and am ready to go.
Without access to a computer today, I am writing this by hand in a notebook, intending to ype it up and post it on the web tomorrow. Sorry it is a late posting.
It feels good to have gotten this meeting out of the way today. For me, the main thing was sharing the update about the involvement with the AWC and the emerging plan for the peace mission to Japan. However, no-one else from the group has het made a commitment to join me on the journey. There are three “maybe’s” though. I hope they tell others and encourage them to join in. As for me, I have to think about it and speak to the Japanese coordinator; together, we’ll make a pitch for international support and participation.
At today’s meeting in Seoul, we spent a long time talking about the significance of the ferry disaster. Apparently, there are some wild speculations about it, such as the suspicion that foreign military attacked the ferry boat. That’s a stretch. I think Korean’s, fiercely proud nationalists, feel such shame and find it so difficult to publically admit the shortcomings of their society, may find it easier to deflect the criticism and shift the blame. I, for one, accept the explanation that the deregularization, liberalization and privatization of services and industries are causing workplace deaths and injuries as the global economy plunges deeper into crisis. There have been more accidents. The most notable this week is the collapse of the coal mine in Turkey that claimed some 300 lives. In Turkey, there are mass demonstrations blaming the government and the mining company for the accident, and demanding accountability. Yes, I agree that certain people are responsible for many deaths, and the government and the ferry company share a great part of the responsibility for the ferry boat disaster, the coal mine disaster in Turkey, and workplace deaths and injuries in general around the world. Societies, in general, must address safety. Basically, Korea especially needs to cultivate a feeling of concern for others, and social responsibility with citizen’s duty to society in order to progress as a nation and modern industrialized democratic society.
In South Korea, mass actions are multiplying at present because a national election of regional representatives is soon to take place. Everyone is surfacing to beat drums and call out for attention to this and that issue or group.