A movement supporting an ongoing protest for the sovereignty of Hong Kong, also known as #StandwithHK movement, is spreading on campus.
Hong Kong’s protests started earlier this June in opposition to a bill regarding the extradition of criminals from Hong Kong to mainland China. Although the bill was withdrawn in September, demonstrations in Hong Kong continue to demand full democracy. However, the Chinese government firmly opposes Hong Kong’s independence or any movements concerning it. The recent death of a university student in Hong Kong during the protest fueled the spread of #StandwithHK among university students in Korea.
In response to this incident and controversy, an organization called Students Speak for Hong Kong in South Korea (SSFHK) was established by university students with the purpose of raising awareness on the issue in Korea. The group did so by translating Hong Kong protest related news into English and Korean.
When asked why Korean students should be aware of what is going on in Hong Kong, Lee Sang-moon, a junior in Dongguk University and a member of SSFHK, replied.
“All issues are international these days,” Lee said. “As a human being, you should be aware of the violation of human rights happening around the world.” when asked why Korean students should be aware of what is going on in Hong Kong.
SSFHK’s main activities include putting up Lennon Walls in universities in Korea. The original Lennon Wall in Prague, Czech Republic, created by young Czechs in the 1980s who were against the then-communist government, became a global symbol of love and peace. This inspired the #StandforHongKong movement. The Lennon Walls have been put up in universities like Soongsil, Seoul National, Ajou, and Dongguk universities.
In Ewha, a student group from Workers’ Solidarity, a Korean political organization, created a poster and displayed it at Hak-gwan on Nov.11. The title of the poster was, “Support Hong Kong’s Strife!” which revealed the continuous violence and infringement of human rights in Hong Kong. The poster was later found covered with insults in Chinese such as “China is your father.”
Chinese students said they wrote on the poster to show that they are against Hong Kong’s protest because it is an act of violence and terrorism.
“We simply have a different perspective on Hong Kong’s protest,” a Chinese international student who wished to remain anonymous said. “China is not against Hong Kong’s democracy, and instead we disapprove of the violence they are using to achieve democracy. We hope for peace.”
On Nov. 13, around 3 p.m., the damaged poster led to a quarrel in Hak-gwan causing huge conflict. Crowds of Chinese and Korean students started to emerge as Hong Kong students started to give a speech shouting that they do not support terrorism; they just support love and peace.
The crowd expanded to the point that about 30 minutes later, administrative staff members from the Department of Humanities asked the Hong Kong students to leave the area. However, the Hong Kong students refused, claiming that Chinese students were on standby and might further damage the poster. The administrative staff then asked both the Hong Kong and Chinese students to leave the area simultaneously, promising that one of the staff members would remain to ensure the poster’s safety.
On the following night, Ewha group from Workers’ Solidarity put up a new poster in Hak-gwan demanding an end to the damaging of the previous poster supporting Hong Kong.
“Scribbling on the poster and damaging it instead of trying to have a discussion is selfish,” Ewha student group from Workers’ Solidarity said.
“People have different perspectives because they grew up in different backgrounds,” an international student from Hong Kong who also wished to remain anonymous said. “That’s why support from the international community is needed to solve these issues.”
A campaign was held in order to show support to Hong Kong’s protests on Nov. 18 at Main Gate. Korean and Hong Kong students gathered with irregular workers for the campaign.
On the same day, a poster claiming that liberal democracy doesn’t justify violence and that Hong Kong has always been part of China was displayed on the wall of Hak-gwan, which was later found damaged on that day.
Han Ka-eun, a senior from the Department of Chinese Language and Literature who led the campaign, shared her opinion on why she supports Hong Kong.
“I support Hong Kong because Hong Kong and Korea share similar histories,” Han said. “The basis of Hong Kong’s strife is the absence of political democracy and inequality, a similar situation that Korea had also been through in the past. By supporting Hong Kong, we are also helping Korea to achieve full democracy. Therefore, I hope for more widespread movements supporting Hong Kong in Korea.”