Protestors stop Vershbow from attending meeting

U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow was stopped by KCTU protestors from attending a meeting with the Korean Internet Journalists’ Association, reports the Korea Herald:

The U.S. envoy to Korea was to meet with members of the Korea Internet Journalists’ Association at the office of progressive radio channel, Voice of the People in Yeongdeungpo, western Seoul.

But members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions who share an office in the same building barricaded the entrance and held out placards saying "U.S. obstructs reunification."

Bummer, although I’m still kind of baffled that the ambassador would go anywhere near the Voice of the People, which comes pretty close to being the Seoul branch of the KCNA.  On a positive note, I guess it’s good to see the KCTU’s keepin’ busy with their vice president awaiting trial in Hong Kong and all.

Just some choice quotes from the incident:

The internet news association also expressed regret but urged the ambassador to take the reason for the protest into consideration.

Yeah, I’m sure he’ll do just that.

The KCTU released a statement which read, "We believe the United States is trying to play the progressive press or use it for a political event. Thus we cannot accept (the ambassador’s) visit to Voice of the People that is aligned with the KCTU."


  • R. Elgin

    It is nice to have a clear demonstration just what bums and morons the KCTU really are. I hope they all go back to China and raise hell there, thus giving the Chinese an excuse to keep them locked up, especially since Korea can not seem to muster the courage or due process to lock anyone up.

  • slim

    Where does Urinaraism end and fascism begin?

  • Mi-Hwa

    The KCTU should be punished with heavy fines. There’s a difference between protesting and illegal obstruction.

  • Darin

    Ah yes, the famous “We’re going to be the biggest ass-holes the world has ever seen, and then the world will do things our way, and the world will like it too!” technique. Worked for America right?

  • Shenzhen Whitey

    Such an action pisses me off. Seriously.

  • Michael

    That basically sums up Korean “progressives” (or “liberals” or “Leftists” or whatever other misnomer they choose to go by): basic rights like freedom of speech only apply to them, not to North Koreans or uppity U.S. ambassadors.

  • Dram_man

    Wait a minute…I thought KBS was KCNA’s affilate in Korea.

  • usinkorea

    I don’t know whose bright idea it was to start doing these “Sit down with the radicals” townhall stuff, but I would have thought somebody with a better sense of Korea would have gotten them to at least modify the approach by now if not kill it outright.

    It might make some sense to me to go SBS or KBS or MBC — go on some mainstream TV news show or something like whatever it was that broke the Hwang scandal (pc notebook?) or whatever — and have on as part of the questioning panel Voice of People and Ohmynews and more…

    There might have some proactive hope of sitting down with representatives from these groups in a forum like on a KBS that can also pull in a mainstream audience as well as zealot followers of those guys.

    But, it makes no sense to me to keep sending top US representatives to go into the forums set up by the likes of Voice or even Ohmynews to face them on their own turf.

    It just sets the bar for potentual effective movement way to high.

    Let me put it this way — the Voice people could belch, fart, pick their nose and wipe it on their shirt, then use the finger to rub up and down on their pressed lips while they go “pweeeppppppppweeppppppwppppppeeeewwwppppp”

    —and the US rep could give the most stunning, erudite responses to even the most moranic or difficult of questions…

    and the bulk of the listeners via a Voice or similar format are going to get angry at the US and think Voice did a bang up job.

    I even believe if taken into a MBC type forum, even some of the frequent listerners to a Voice message would have more willingness to listen to what the US rep has to say.

    What I mean is, I think going into a forum set up by these people completely on their own turf will give them such a sense of accomplishment and sophistication and credibility, they will have already heard everything they want to hear before the first word is spoken.

    I guess I might even be saying the same thing if Voice of People and the like were taken into the Embassy and sat down in a staff room and were given the chance to have an “open and frank debate” with the US reps, though I do believe the chance the US people would be more open minded than the likes of the Voice and their most dedicated listerners is much higher.

    As it is, we have seen these US reps go to the forums set up by these groups a few times now, and what has it accomplished?

    At best, it seems to me, it has accomplished not throwing fuel on any fires.

    But, there in is the problem as well.

    The bar is set so high

  • Andy Jackson

    I disagree. Talking with the pinks on their turf accomplishes at least three things:

    1. It shows that the USA rep. in Korea is not afraid to face anyone, any where, any time. That adds to his credibility and gives a little moral support to those in Korea who support the alliance.

    2. By having him on ‘their’ show and listening to him unfiltered, it forces the lefties to think of him (and the USA) as something other than the caricature that they mentally draw of us in their little echo chambers.

    3. If he is prevented from talking, the lefties look like jerks to the general pubic for silencing a different view. If he is not prevented from talking, the lefties either alienate moderate Koreas by talking like jerks or cause dissention in their ranks by talking like reasonable human beings.

    I like Vershbow more and more almost every day.

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  • Michael

    USinK, I have to respectfully disagree with what (I think) you’re saying. The current U.S. gov’t has been going on about “spreading democracy” in a very forthright manner, so it should be able to argue its case among skeptics and not limit this newfound zeal for preaching democracy to domestic audiences–that’s preaching to the choir. While you risk lending credibility to some misguided groups by speaking before them, it also shows democracy in practice and demonstrates that values worth keeping can be put up for examination and survive. If the U.S. gov’t can’t articulate those values, it deserves condemnation.

    Then, in a more general way, I don’t think it hurts to expose even the stereotypical frog-in-the-well Korean “lefty” to a living, breathing, hopefully thinking American, since there’s such a cartoon view of the U.S. in some quarters here.

  • Michael

    I was busy writing when Mr. Jackson posted, so pardon the me-too content. I also like the ambassador’s proactive approach.