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Published: June 21st 2009
Finally the arrival of spring, I couldn’t be more grateful. It had truly been a long and lingering winter and finally the weather started to turn properly. I was really looking forward to the end of April not only because of the weather but also because of HiSeoul festival. HiSeoul festival had been advertised for months and I was all prepared for Sundays Pink Parade. The Pink Parade is apparently a massive parade where both the public and the paraders (if that is even a word) make their way down from Gyeongbokgung Palace all the way down to Cheonggye Plaza. I was so excited so I recruited Robin my fellow western co-teacher (this would turn out to be her last weekend in South Korea, after only 2 months, before she made an escape back to Canada on the 302 bus one night after work) and we headed to the Pink Parade.
Walking to May Palace at Cheonggye Plaza felt like we were entering a disaster area cause the entire place was teaming with what looked like the entire Seoul city police force. Initially we were having quite a chuckle to ourselves thinking that it was somewhat of an overkill to
have this much man power assigned to maintain crowd control.
It did however became very unnerving when we suddenly realized we were on a collision course with some 100 police men who had suddenly started a 100m sprint behind us. I'm not going to lie we were very very confused but decided that it was probably just the over cautious Koreans and so we jumped out of the way and then continued in pursuit of the parade. Half way up the road we found the start of the parade, a whole mish-mash of traditional musicians and dancers and civilians. We joined in walking among the players, taking photos and enjoying ourselves completely oblivious to the fact that we were in fact in the middle of the parade being boycotted by anti government rioters….ooops. At one point I was minding my own business taking a couple of pictures of some of the musicians when an irate, horrible man came up to me, stood in my face and started screaming and spitting in saying a whole bunch of stuff that I didn’t understand….so much for thinking you are minding your own business.
Needless to say Robin and I weren’t too
perturbed but were still a little confused about what was going on so we stopped in at the trusty tourist information only to discover that the parade had been completely boycotted by the rioters and apparently what we saw was about the only part of the parade that did happen. Checking off on my life list; attended a protest...check .
Making our way back down to May Palace to try and catch a glimpse of the nights performances that were scheduled we came across some of the paraders all dressed up in stunning outfits but who never got the chance to show off their outfits and preparation because they had to disperse as a result of the rioters. Things at May palace got even more out of hand when the police lost control of the crowd and the rioters managed to get onto the stage and completely disrupt the festivals goings on. Man alive it was all in all a pretty hectic, starting with a beaten up policeman holding a bloody head and next thing a mini stampeded ensued as more police infiltrated the crowed. Robin and I realized that the Parade and the opening events of HiSeoul festival
The 100m sprint
Trying to jump out of the way of the police men
were all but cancelled and it was in our best interest to head as far away as possible for fear of becoming part of the newly laid turf.
Since the opening of HiSeoul festival was all but over we took the opportunity do the night visit to Bongeunsa (which I already mentioned earlier in my blog) to see the lanterns. I must say being at the Temple was quite a stark contrast from the crazy out of hand riots at the site of the HiSeoul festival. Nothing like going from Chaos to the beauty and tranquility of the lantern lit Temple. All in a day’s visit to Seoul.
P.S nothing worse than posting average photos (ie blurry photos) but these are all I had cause i had to do lost of quick snapping for fear of getting accosted by another angry protester!
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