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Olympic fever, then and now

11 0 1
By Donald Kirk

Mid-winter is not exactly the best time for mass demonstrations in South Korea. Protesters prefer to wait for spring, but the Winter Olympics leave them no choice.

Flag-wavers are out there during the coldest ever Olympics, the rightists waving Korean and American flags, leftists and liberals those one-Korea flags, the Korean Peninsula in blue on a white field.

The outburst of Korean-style protests evokes memories of the violence that accompanied the 1988 Summer Olympics when students carrying Molotov cocktails poured off the campuses of universities, confronting rows of policemen in full body armor.

The demonstrations then were against military rule that protesters believed was still in force even though Korea had undergone a mass upheaval in June 1987 that led to promulgation of a democracy constitution calling for election of a president every five years.

I was in Korea then, on a USA Today team that aspired to cover every aspect of the Summer Olympics. One of my jobs was the protests. I remember Molotov cocktails piled up in the student center of Korea University and students massed on the wide avenue outside the main gate of Yonsei University. I watched as they threw rocks at policemen, some of whom I saw picking........

© The Korea Times