Police power silences students’opposition against president Park’s visit
Police power silences students’opposition against president Park’s visit
  • Kim Hye-won
  • 승인 2015.11.16 09:41
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On Oct. 29, an intense strife occurred between Ewha students and the police. The students were demonstrating to block president Park Geun-hye’s visit to the school, while the police were trying to hold them back. During approximately two hours of confrontation, a few students got injured.
Under the lead of Student Government Association (SGA), students from eight organizations including Ewha Nabi and Ewha Labor Solidarity, and approximately 300 other students participated in the demonstration. The protest aimed to obstruct the entrance of president Park and deliver dissenting voices on issues including government-designated history textbook and college reconstruction. The protest took place as president Park was expected to give an opening speech at the National Women’s Conference held at Walch-Ryang Auditorium.
Son Sol, the president of SGA, held a press conference at 1 p.m., claiming that “the president who goes against people’s will is not welcome in Ewha.” From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., students marched to the Walch-Ryang Auditorium with pickets reading “We refuse president Park” or “Park Geun-hye shall not speak on behalf of women.”
However, as students marched forward, around 300 police officers and security guards blocked them in front of the Student Union Building and at the back gate. During this process, students and the police collided; pickets were torn down and several students got injured.
“The police violently restrained students who were planning for a peaceful picketing,” Son said. “Interruption of police authority was clearly an excessive and violent undertaking.”
Intervention of the police power ignited more controversy and fury among students as students claim that during the police repression,   plainclothes policemen and illegal evidence collecting were involved.
“A random guy pulled me over,” said a student who participated at the protest. “I protested and tried to get free, but he told me it was a valid act because he was a policeman. Plainclothes policemen not only roughly repressed students but also collected evidence unjustly, taking pictures of students without notifying or asking them.”
The incident inflamed numerous discussions and ramifications, not only in Ewha but also in other parts of Korean society. Students’ protest against the president was broadcasted live nationwide by stations including JTBC and OhmyTV. Many students and even alumnae expressed their support for such undertaking.
“I felt proud watching Ewha students standing up and voicing loudly on the behalf of us all on TV,” said Lee Ye-lim, an alumnus who graduated Ewha in 2006. “A lot of people say that university students these days are negligent about social issues and politics, but Ewha students proved that students of this age are still active and courageous as intellectual participants of the society.”
After the protest, students made a donation to put on an advertisement with the picture of the demonstration and a message against the state-designated textbook on the front page of Kyunghyang Daily. From Oct. 29 to Nov. 3, around 800 students voluntarily collected 16,178,657 won on the school’s community site.
On Oct. 31, the SGA and over 50 governing bodies of college units and student organizations declared a collective statement asking for the school’s apology for virtually approving police violence within school grounds. The statement was published on SGA’s official Facebook, distributed handouts and posters.
On Nov. 5, around 20 students including the student president held a press conference at the Main Gate and headed to the president’s office. The original plan was to hand the statement directly to Ewha president Choi Kyung-hee, but it was delivered to head of the Office of Student Affairs, Seok In-sun, due to president Choi’s absence.
Son strongly argued that the school has to explain and apologize for the consequences brought in by the policemen's violence within school grounds.
“Although president Choi was present at the situation, the school allowed the whole situation to happen rather than taking the necessary protective measures for the students,” pressed Son.
The school responded by expressing regret over the situation and explaining that the school is not responsible for allowing the police on campus. The school only cooperated with security measures to the event, and was neither aware of nor had any right in deciding the kinds or volumes of security service.
Failing to receive any responses, the SGA declared that they will continuously work to get an apology from president Choi in a meeting attended by students.
“It was infuriating and frustrating to not be able to voice or walk on my own will on my own campus,” said Lee Kyung-ryun, a senior Ewha student majoring in Politics. “Still, I hope our act ignited a small dose of light to the public’s awareness.”

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