Internet powerhouse Korea has once again shown just how great netizen power can be.
Korean netizens, who voluntarily created Red Devils, the Korean World Cup team supporters, has recreated that legendary youthful culture through their demand for the revision of the Korea-US Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). And this culture has spontaneously sparked back to life in Gwanghwamun, the heart of Seoul that witnessed the lusty shouts of the red devils six months ago during the World Cup games.
A candlelight march that began with a netizen's proposal to "burn Gwanghwamun with candles" on November 30 has attracted thousands of citizens, who gathered in Gwanghwamun holding family's, lover's and friend's hands and armed with candles. They gathered not at the request of a specific organization but voluntarily, planning candlelight marches in every major city through the Internet and expanding the solidarity offline.
The marchers' demands are the same everywhere - the invalidation of the marshal court's not guilty verdict regarding the servicemen involved in the death of the two schoolgirls, a direct apology from US President George Bush, and the revision of the unequal SOFA.
In 1995, three American soldiers sexually violated an elementary schoolgirl in Okinawa, leading to a direct apology from then American president Bill Clinton. In contrast, president Bush only offered an indirect apology through the US Embassy in Korea regarding the death of the two schoolgirls in Korea. This fact alone has sparked the anger of Korean netizens, who believe that national pride is on the line. Their fury has turned into a tidal wave that shows no signs of calming down.
The flame that the netizens have lighted is slowly moving from strength to strength. On December 4, the Korean president finally instructed relevant authorities to see to the improvement of SOFA, and even the US seemed shaken. However, the government has proposed maintaining the original framework of the SOFA while improving its operation, concentrating on strengthening Korea's initial investigation rights. It has been pointed out that such measures fall far short of pacifying the angry Korean public.
In fact, rallies calling for the revision of SOFA continue to spread throughout the nation in a variety of forms. On December 5, several civic and religious groups held rallies one after another near the US Embassy.
The Korea-US relations, which have been controlled by a handful of diplomatic and security officials of the two countries for the past half-century, is definitely on a path towards change, thanks to the ever-exploding volcano of public opinion demanding equal Korea-US relations.