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Ever-evolving Gwanghwamun to be altered anew

Ever-evolving Gwanghwamun to be altered anew

Old Aug 11, 15, 6:07 pm
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Ever-evolving Gwanghwamun to be altered anew

Ever evolving Gwanghwamun

A fascinating read on the evolution of Gwanghwamun as the main gate to Gyungbukgung and then as a social space and leisure area. A boon for those staying at the new Four Seasons Seoul as traffic noise will be lessened and the walk to Gyungbukgung far more pleasureful!

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Old Aug 15, 15, 10:15 pm
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Wife and I happened to be in Gwanghwamun Square around June 30, 2014. There were posters on display lamenting the recent ferry disaster. There was also a Catholic mass going on right in the square. Both events were quite small and peaceful.

What I don't understand is that whole length of the parking lane adjacent to the square was filled with riot police in full gear and armored paddy wagons.
There were hundreds of police.

Not sure what to make of it -- whether it was just a police rehearsal going on or what? Also the sheer numbers of police was amazing, more that I'd would imagine on duty in the entire city of Seoul.

Any idea what that was about?
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Old Aug 16, 15, 12:25 am
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They're police conscripts and it's just a precaution because sometimes those peaceful gatherings can get hijacked and become fiery.
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Old Aug 16, 15, 6:39 pm
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I thought they had done away with the practice of using conscripts for riot police duty a couple of years ago? I read that somewhere, IIRC.

In the past, when the student demonstrations were more violent-- molotov cocktails were an occasional weapon that students would deploy against riot police-- it was apparently standard operating procedure for the Korean government to take note of particularly active student demonstrators, and to put the males into the riot police when they reported for their military service, so that the next cohort of student demonstrators could face them.

Being in the riot police can be miserable duty; they issue the conscripts padded "armor" to wear when they are deployed, even in the heat of summer. Imagine standing in full sun, wearing your armor, and your helmet, for hours seemingly without end, in 80% humidity.

It hasn't been that long since the student demonstrations raged, but it seems that the only thing constant in Korea today is rapid change. I can't imagine the students of today rioting as they did in former times, though there are always protests of one kind or another.

Originally Posted by Bowgie View Post
Wife and I happened to be in Gwanghwamun Square around June 30, 2014. There were posters on display lamenting the recent ferry disaster.
The disaster was fresh in the minds of the public at that time, and resonated very strongly with so many. When I was there in 4/2015 they were still protesting, on a smaller scale.
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Old Aug 17, 15, 8:59 pm
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They still use riot police ALL the time for ANY protest. For Gay Pride, for instance, THOUSANDS. Giant flanks of them.
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Old Aug 17, 15, 9:01 pm
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They are in the riot police for, presumably, military, so it's crappy either way for them haha.
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Old Aug 17, 15, 9:03 pm
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They're either police cadets or young men doing their military service (in police garb) or both.
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Old Aug 18, 15, 6:36 pm
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They aren't conscripts any more. But the article isn't totally clear to me:

Originally Posted by Joongang Daily
In response to the new circumstances, the National Assembly voted to stop conscripting young men for the riot police as an alternative to military service beginning in January 2012. In the future, draftees who opt for a 21-month stint with the Korea National Police Agency instead of regular military service will be assigned to the remaining tasks the disbanded unit once handled.
Apparently there is a difference between riot police duty and KNPA duty? I took the photo below in March, 2015, and the police actually look like police. The protest was regarding the Sewol, if I recall correctly.

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