Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gwanghwamun inauguration

I decently couldn't miss the inauguration of Gwanghwamun after all those years of waiting and following every step of the restoration. Furthermore, the weather made the short walk almost pleasant. Last night, a massive thunderstorm raged over our heads, relentlessly pouring buckets everywhere like an unruly army of Fantasia brooms, and today, a bright ray of sun even illuminated Sejongno right after the balloons lifted the banner hiding the gate's nameplate.

4,000 guests and thousands of Seoul citizens attended the show, waiting for a long limousine to arrive from Hyojaro and drop LEE Myung-bak in a pale yellow hanbok. The President reached his place like a Jeoson rock star, accompanied with classical music, and making everyone wonder what the show was all about : the 65th anniversary of Independence, Gwanghwamun inauguration, or a political meeting* ?

Quite an atmosphere, indeed : the colors, music and balloons were sometimes more reminiscent of a Fourth of July in Armpit, Tennessee, or a Bastille Day in a small village in rural Cantal. The National Anthem, sung four times by pro singers, Independence veterans, young kids, and all together, kind of put the focus back on the event.

The nameplate was quickly and successfully unveiled, so that the Presidential speech could start. Nice words about "fair society" (a few days after a massive Presidential Pardon for top politicians and businessmen) and reunification (mostly to introduce a new "reunification tax").

100 years after the official beginning of the Japanese occupation**, LEE also saluted the formal apologies from Naoto Kan : for the first time, a Japanese Government recognized the fact that the annexation was "against the will of the Korean people".

And for the first time, the other day, Japanese extreme-right die harders made a big mistake by inviting Jean-Marie Le Pen and other controversial European figures at Yasukuni : they wanted to react to Kan's refusal to visit this controversial shrine, but doing so, they also exposed their true nature and imposture to their own fellow citizens. Maybe, this time, the Japanese people will start to contest this troubled minority the right to decide who can remain a Prime Minister, and the right to decide what must be written in history textbooks.

Seoul Village 2010

* of course, Independence and Gwanghwamun are also about politics.
** as we all know, it started earlier in Dokdo.

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