SKoreans mourn death, pay respects to ex-president
BONGHA, South Korea – Bowing deeply and laying white chrysanthemums before his portrait, tens of thousands of mourners journeyed Sunday to the southern village wherekilled himself by jumping off a rocky cliff overlooking his home.
But several top officials, including the prime minister, were turned away from the mourning rites for the liberal ex-leader, who had a fractious relationship with conservative opponents his supporters accuse of driving Roh to his death. They pelted a bus carrying conservative politicians with eggs and doused lawmakers with water.
The 62-year-old Roh, who relied on pluck and hard work to rise from his impoverished youth in rural Gimhae to become president in 2003, died Saturday after jumping from a promontory known as Owl's Rock that overlooks his home. He left behind a note describing his suffering over corruption allegations and asking to be cremated.
The government and Roh's family agreed to hold a public "people's funeral" after a seven-day mourning period, most likely on Friday, former Roh aide Han Hyung-min said.
Roh's suicide, just 15 months after he left office, came as he and his family faced intense questioning about $6 million given to the Rohs during his presidency by a Seoul businessman implicated in a number of bribery scandals.
The allegations weighed heavily on a man who prided himself on his "clean" record in a country struggling to shake a tradition of corruption. Prosecutors had been grilling Roh, his wife and their two children since last month.
"What's left for me for the rest of my life is just to be a burden to others," Roh wrote in a note on his computer minutes before leaving for the final hike to Owl's Rock with a security guard. "Don't be too sad. Aren't life and death both part of nature? Don't feel sorry. Don't blame anybody. It's destiny."
Roh's suicide stunned the nation of 49 million, which was divided during his presidency between those critical of his outspoken, antiestablishment ways and others who rallied around his efforts to promote democracy, fight corruption and facilitate rapprochement with.
Braving a downpour, nearly 80,000 trekked Sunday to Bongha, the village 280 miles (450 kilometers) south ofSeoul where Roh had lived since leaving office, to pay their respects at mourning tents erected at the community center, police said. Hundreds of Buddhist monks in gray robes and wide-brimmed hats held a solemn prayer service.
But not all visitors were welcomed. Roh supporters accuse South Korea's conservative right, led by President Lee Myung-bak and the , of pushing the corruption probe believed to have driven Roh to despair.
Prime Minister Han Seung-soo was turned away. Roh backers hurled eggs at a bus carrying , the conservative who lost the presidential election to Roh in 2002.
Supporters also reviled National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyong-o, dousing him with water. His aides tried to protect him from the angry onslaught with their umbrellas. Former Grand National Party leader , daughter of former President Park Chung-hee, also tried to pay her respects but wasn't able to reach the mourning site.
The mood Sunday in Seoul was somber. A line at Chogye Temple snaked around the lawn and into the street as Seoulites, many dressed in black and bearing flowers, waited to pay their respects. Many sobbed as they knelt before his smiling portrait.
At a mourning site outside Seoul's 16th-century Deoksu Palace, more than 16,000 waited in long lines to place white flowers, cigarettes — Roh had recently started smoking — and melons before portraits of the ex-leader.
"I'm really sad. I can feel how much pressure he had been suffering," said Moon Hye-kyung, a 47-year-old businesswoman, wiping away tears with a handkerchief. "I think he could have endured the pressure if it was leveled against only him, not his family members and aides."
She, like many others, blamed conservatives for Roh's suicide.
"The current government pushed this man into death. No doubt about that," said Moon.
But Hong Young-sik, 71, said the government wasn't to blame.
"Why are you guys gathering here? Did he do anything to be praised?" Hong, a former government official, shouted at the crowd. "He only killed himself because he was shamed out of the fact that his and his family's wrongdoing was revealed."
Scuffles broke out between riot police and Roh supporters collecting signatures for a petition calling for Lee's impeachment.
Along Seoul streets, mourners affixed yellow ribbons wishing Roh peace.
"We love you. We've been happy with you," some of the messages said. "Please go to heaven and live freely."
Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.
24 September 2008
Bush's Speech: Honor US Mr. President
Dear Mr. Bush:
I did not need to sit through a 14 minute speech for me to understand the lecture in macroeconomics that you gave just now to understand that this country, if you described it accurately, is fucked. And you and your so-called "administration" fucked it up. Now you are appointing Commissars who want unlimited power with NO review by ANYONE? This is what you support? Perhaps it was a sick joke by Commissar Paulson to come up with a three page "plan" whose contents contained little in the way of specifics, with the exception of section eight of the document, which of course is that very large paragraph in which Mr. Paulson presumably with your knowledge and consent, included in this document. Sir, I am hoping that that was a joke by your inner ruling circle, because you wanted to pass it off to Congress and let the next guy worry about it. Like YOU give a shit? You're all set. I'm sitting here uncertain about everything, including my health, and you get to retire back to Texas and Connecticut for a life of ease. Or maybe not. Perhaps the stench of your Presidence will haunt you forever. It would me, and I will never forget having to write the words I am writing here.
My knowledge of the Japanese culture stems in large measure as a consequence of a friend that I had in high school, Ronald Nakai, who was Nisei - second generation Japanese and with whom I stayed in touch until about 14 years ago for no particular reason. Whenever I would go to his house, I was treated with dignity, respect and honor, even though I was only a 12 0r 16 year old punk kid. Theirs, like mine, is a system of reverence for the past. Ron and I were famous fishing buddies, having the good fortune to be living in Chicago in the 1970s atttending Sullivan High School and when not in school or weekends, when the weather was nice, of course, fishing. But I especially remember a time when we went to his house, and they shared an ancient Japanese ritual that celebrated the rice harvest, as I recall. We each had a big mallet, which we used to strike a big, big ball of rice-dough, that we would smash into a pancake that would appear on the log-like thing that we were hitting. They took it very seriously and I was more than happy to participate. I remember the feeling of "hey, this is cool" when I was doing it, even though I only now realize the grander significance of the act. They were giving thanks to God for rice. Reverentially. Because they and I realize that the path to true holiness is through honor of the past and honor for the future as well. Wiithout honor, one cannot be truly holy.
The other part of Japanese culture that I only now see the grander significance of is the concept of hari-kiri, which is the most famous form of seppuku. Here is the Wikipedia definition of Seppuku:
Seppuku (切腹? "stomach-cutting") is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai honor code, seppuku has been used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies, as a form of capital punishment for samurai who have committed serious offenses, and for reasons that shamed them. Seppuku is performed by plunging a sword into the abdomen and moving the sword left to right in a slicing motion. The practice of committing seppuku at the death of one's master, known as oibara (追腹 or 追い腹, the kun'yomi or Japanese reading) or tsuifuku (追腹, the on'yomi or Chinese reading), follows a similar ritual.
I would contend that if you are half the soldier you crowed about in 2000 and again in 2004, you would want, I would hope, to be able to call yourself a samurai and proceed forthwith to commit seppuku. Between all the calamities that you have caused this country in the name of politics and money, you should be so ashamed of yourself that I at least hope you are man enough to have considered that this would be a perfectly legitemate way out of this life.
Then again, sir, I am sure that you have rationalized the whole thing as somehow being perhaps beyond even your office's power to affect. I am sorry, but your presidency has been marked by a string of failures so long that it can only mean one thing: the management of it is and has been utterly and completely disfunctional at its core. And in the job of this country's highest office, you simply failed to heed too many warnings, time and time again. About so many things. And you blindly insisted that things were OK, even though those of us in the hinterlands of the West Coast could already feel, via "for sale" signs in too many front lawns reading "bank foreclosure, that things were going to get this bad. There were those of us who knew things were bad, but I ascribed those more to personal failings of my own, some within my control, but many not. But this has been coming on for some time and still you persisted in denying the severity of the program that you laid out before the country tonight as necessary.
More like, I had to laugh in your face, sir. Because you were giving me a rationale for a socialist solution to capitalism's inherent woes. Sir, I hope you can laugh with me, (since seppuku is really out of the question in reality, I know) because if this isn't the most absurd situation you have ever seen, I don't know what is. But I can tell you this with some sincerity: Nelson Rockefeller is spinning in his grave and so are all the rest of the dead (and those alive) Wall Street barons rolling over in their graves and homes, because you have gone against everything they stood for in order to maintain the status quo. I suggest that you familiarize yourself with this article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_socialism_in_Great_Britain#Socialism_and_nationalism
The History of Socialism in Great Britain is essential reading for anyone wanting to know what to expect next, I predict, to the present economy. It cannot help but take this route, because, as some politican or other said this week, borrowing from "we've gone down the rabbit hole", borrowing of course from Alice in Wonderland And if there is one law that everyone, furtive socialists and fervent capitalists alike have to obey, regardless, is that of gravity. And once we are down the rabbit hole, we can only go, accordingly, down.
Well done. Messrs. Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams and Washington salute you, of course, I am sure. What a horrible day in history, not necessarily because socialism is all that bad, I hope, but it puts a question mark after the American Dream. The American dream is to "make it to the top" or at least not legally let anyone stand in your way but, essentially, you. This shatters that conception, because the government that you were President of that supported the American Dream as it previously existed, had a failure of leadership. I'm sorry the dreams of the American Forefathers had to end so ignominiously. They would have died in vain.
Posted by Randy Shiner at 6:15 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Labels: 2008 race, Birth of Socialism, Breaking Media News, Bush's speech on economy September 24, Japanese culture, Ronald Nakai, seppuku, seppuku for George Bush, US Economy