Woo Sang Ho (student protestor)

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Date: 1985 - 1995

Region: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Public Art Print Journalism


Artist: Woo Sang Ho

Confronting Bodies: Republic of Korea

Dates of Action: August 25, 1987

Location: Republic of Korea (South Korea)

Description of Artwork: "... On August 2, 1987, The New York Times published an interview with Woo Sang Ho, the president of the student body at Seoul's Yonesi University. Woo criticized the South Korean government and the United States involvement in his country. His quoted remarks included the following exchange with the Times Correspondent:

Q: Will there be more violence, more street clashes?

A. No, we're not going to demonstrate in a way to make people mad at us. We'll have peaceful demonstrations. But if the government and the police try to stop us, then there'll be some violence. We're not going to stand by and be hassled.

Q. Is it right for students to use violence?

A. Violence can be justified. For example, violence against Nazis was legitimate.

Q. Is the Government truly like the Nazis?

A. It's hard to make a precise comparison. The oppression in (occupied) France must have been much more severe, because it came from abroad. But we're fighting against military fascism. The fascism in Korea is directly related to Hitler's Nazism.

Q. Could you go to jail for saying that?

A. I'm not afraid of going to jail. As a student leader, it's something I take for granted.

The Incident: "... On August 25, 1987, Woo and five other students were arrested on charges of violating the Act on Assembly and Demonstration. Woo was also charged with slandering the state by making 'undesirable statements' to the "Times" reporter and to journalists from the "Financial Times," and the West German newspaper "Algemeine Zeitung"... " "... Article 104-2 of the Republic of Korea's Criminal Code provides a penalty of up to seven years imprisonment for a Korean national "who insults or defames the Republic of Korea or her constitutional institutions, or who injures or causes injury to the security, interests, or the prestige of the Republic of Korea, by distorting the facts thereof or by circulating false facts or in any other way outside the country." Results of Incident: "... On December 4, 1987, the Korean press reported that Woo had been sentenced to four years imprisonment. Later reports indicate that Woo was released from prison, and was subsequently detained on another charge of violating the assembly law involving a protest during the presidential election campaign. He was arrested again under the assembly law when he led a rally in support of unifying the opposition before the National Assembly elections. Woo was reportedly released on probation in July 1988... "

Source: Asia Watch, Freedom of Expression in the Republic of Korea, August, 1988, Pg. 40-42