Our Trip to a Candlelight Protest

In a manner that was both visually appealing and poignant, the trip to the candlelight protest (also known as a 촛불집회 in Korean) on January 14, 2017 was quite the experience. As a group of six teenagers, attending different schools in different grades, the demonstration seemed to bring the group together emotionally for a single cause: move against the current and very controversial South Korean president, Park Geun-hye.

As we arrived at the subway station where the movement was taking place and slowly strolled towards the focal point of the protest, we seemed to be more lighthearted than anything. Regardless of the solemn nature of the event we were about to attend, we made sure that we were also relishing the trip and making memories, taking pictures every few minutes and making a number of jokes with one another. However, as we approached the spectacle, an atmosphere of both passion and gravity got the better of us; involuntarily, we became more pensive and thoughtful of our surroundings.

Despite living in South Korea, watching national television, and being Koreans ourselves, the group consisted only of students attending English-speaking international schools. Unfortunately, at the getgo, very few of us were aware of what types of things were at the candlelight vigil and more importantly, how ardent other citizens were. Yet, the trip to the vigil gave us the opportunity to soak in the sheer outrage everyone was feeling. Not only did we purchase candles that we held all throughout the journey, but we got the chance to observe different forms of artwork and enter a variety of fascinating exhibits, including a Sewolho Ferry commemoration tent, caricatures of both President Park and Choi Soon-sil, and posters containing pictures and surprising facts.

However, the trip shone light on an important question I had not thoroughly considered. Is this fair? Is she subjectively or objectively a terrible individual? Is she merely a scapegoat for South Korea’s problems or was she the primary cause of them? Does she deserve this? Time keeps us at suspense on the development of this scandal.

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