[Submitted by Where’s Waldo, Seoul, South Korea]
As those following international politics are probably aware, Seoul will be hosting the G20 summit this weekend. The previous G20 summit hosted by Toronto in June was met with fierce protests, which the local police force responded to with unprecedented brutality. Eager to avoid a repeat of the Toronto debacle, South Korea’s right-wing president Myung Bak Lee has authorized several measures, many of tenuous legality under the Korean constitution, to ensure that the summit goes off without a hitch. Foreigners with a history of protest may be barred from entering the country and freedom of expression will be significantly curtailed, with all demonstrations restricted to Olympic Park, an area kilometers from the action at the COEX Exhibition Center. Participants in unregistered protests will be subject to potential arrest. One protest outside the designated boundaries has already been broken up by police using pepper spray. However, perhaps the most intriguing story thus far has been that of a 40-year-old university professor known only as Park. Park and his friend were apprehended on Sunday for drawing a rat on a poster promoting the G20 Seoul Summit. An image of their work may be viewed below:
A truly inspiring work of art, I must profess. The Korea Times has noted that the added image “gave people the impression that a huge rat was holding the lantern symbolizing the G20 Summit with the words, ‘The world is watching Korea.’”
The image of a rat is often used by liberals to caricature president Lee due to his involvement in numerous scandals and his close ties to major corporations, which in South Korea hold almost unchecked power.
I plan to observe the upcoming protests, both official and unoffical, and document them as well as possible. If all goes well, the result may become another Art Art Revolution submission. I also might attempt to dash off a work of public art although, in light of Park’s unfortunate story, I might opt to exercise restraint for the sake of my visa status.